So why do you want to be a teacher?

“So why do you want to be a teacher?”  That question was music to my ears today.  Especially so since it came from a student, Raul, a special focus of mine for the past few months.  He has significant potential, if he put in the extra effort, and believed in himself, as well as his chances to succeed beyond high school.  Oftentimes, he makes a concerted effort to write the daily warm-up and class notes in his notebook, if he feels like getting up to get it.  He also participates more often than not with class work.  He rarely turns in any homework, however.

After distributing today’s quiz, which my CT (Coordinating Teacher) created, I sat down to complete it myself for use as a grading key.  As I started, Raul came up to sharpen his pencil; waiting behind someone else using it.  While waiting, he glanced over at me, sitting at my “student teacher” desk, surprised that I was working on it, and asked me if I had to take the quiz, too.  I jokingly responded, “Yes, I have to pass it to become a teacher.”  He nodded, shook his head side to side, and then asked me the magic question: “So why do you want to be a teacher?”  I simply stated, “So I can get to know students, like you, Raul.”  He smiled, slightly and quickly, then moved over to sharpen his pencil and take his quiz.  He did pretty well on it, scoring an 81%.

While his question was innocuous, it spoke volumes for me.  It was one of the few times that he asked me a personal question, and with genuine interest in my answer.  While he had raised his hand for help many times over the past, especially after I helped him on one of his earlier quizzes, his questions were always about the problem he had solving a math problem, to which I always responded in such a way to show my respect for him, as I do for every student, by kneeling next to him at his desk, and to make sure he understood my responses, whether they were questions, most likely, or comments.

Raul also likely felt confident enough to trust me since I call on him often in class, and support him as he works through an answer, even if he is unsure initially.  Just like today, where I guided him through graphing an absolute value function: y = |x| – 4.  While he struggled at first, he persisted, with my support and encouragement, completing the solution for y enough times to graph the function.  He seemed pleased with his success, as he often does when he demonstrates knowledge of how to solve a problem, and at times, deeper understanding of the mathematics.

Moments like this are wonderful to capture and reflect upon.  Especially since there have been, and will continue to be days like yesterday, where things did not go as smoothly as I’d prefer, which is the subject of an upcoming post, titled: “Tough Love” is Tough.


About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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2 Responses to So why do you want to be a teacher?

  1. Bruce says:

    It’s good to remember these moments as you will definitely need to draw upon them when you yourself forget the answer to this post heading.

    It is clear to me that you take genuine interest in helping kids. The students will be lucky to have you as their teacher someday.



  2. dwees says:

    Hey Dave,

    I’d just like to invite you to join the conversation on Twitter. I don’t know if you are tweeting yet or not, but it is clear from your blog that you have a lot to share, and that other educators would like to hear your voice. Bonus: You can send links to your best stuff to Twitter and expand your readership.

    If you are interested, I’m @davidwees on Twitter. You can Google instructions on how to get signed up, etc… I’m finding it an awesome way to connect with other educators.

    Bruce, if you are interested in education, you might like it too.



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