Why do you want to become a teacher?

The Personal Statement
Why do you want to become a teacher?

Why teach? An amazing question, with a complicated answer. The truth is that a responsible adult and parent can not escape from teaching. One is always teaching by example. Every word, every praise or (heaven forbid) every criticism is a teaching encounter. The question is not whether to teach or not. The question is why teach in the structured environment called a "school" and why accept the great responsibility to lead students as they learn. And, on a personal note, the question becomes one of why do I think that I would be a great teacher.

Your web site provides some of my answer to these questions. The points are to "make a difference" with "socially meaningful work". But my answer, in light of the way that I frame the question, is different.

Of course, the school structure is necessary and desired. We live in a very structured society. Students benefit from learning about society, its structure and requirements. School is a preparation for living in our social structure and framework. And thus, society also benefits.

Acknowledging the great responsibility of a teacher causes me a hesitation. But as with my experience in calligraphy, the clean white parchment is sacrificed for the finished document.

And I do think that I would be a great teacher. I find myself often contemplating being a teacher; being in a classroom; making lesson plans in my head; thinking of ways to explain ideas in algebra or calculus; and also explaining to students who I am; my particular history and culture. Add to the desire to teach, I also bring a highly successful career in technology and computers, a career that requires me to reinvent myself every five years as the technology changes. I am constantly learning.
My motivation to choose teaching has a 'push' aspect and a 'pull' aspect. The 'push' comes from days in an isolated cubicle in front of a computer monitor with hands on keyboard. The 'pull' is an attraction to the idea of being an example and role model for students; of interacting and listening; of being there for them.

I live in Baltimore City, and I am aware of the need for good teachers in these so-called 'high-need' schools. Actually, the term 'high-need' might be indicative of a school that could be better categorized as 'low-performing' or 'under-performing'. In other words, in such schools there are fewer students that do well. I believe that in 'high-need' schools, the 'need' is for better teachers. I intend to be a full-fledged member of the 'better teachers' club. If the students in the 'high-need' school are under-performing, then it might be the fault of the teachers or the administration. It would be my challenge to rectify that fault, and I am always up and ready for such a challenge.

Alternatively, a 'high-need' school might be one where there is a lack of qualified teachers. If this is the case, then I am attracted because it is very appealing to me to be needed. I would be in an elite cohort on the front-line of effort. (I hesitate to use the word 'battle', because I hope that the classroom environment is one of cooperation.)

And one of the reasons that I am choosing to enter the BCTR Math Immersion Program is just that. Since there is a special, higher need for Math teachers, then that is exactly what I want to do. It fits me to be teaching a high-need subject in a high-need school.

Additionally, I want to be a Math teacher because I am using the subject in my current career as a Computer Technology professional. And I have also taught some Math in college adjunct classes. Although I did not major in Math, I did do well in the subject and like the subject. I often go back to my old Calculus and Linear Math books for the challenge, as other people do crosswords or suduku. I would be an excellent Math teacher in any school, high-need, low-income, or otherwise.

The goal of high academic achievement for all students is a very important responsibility of a teacher. Other intangible types of learning, growth and maturity can not be readily measured. It is the academic learning that can be measured and tallied. In my career as a computer technology professional, one of the most important skills that I have developed is my ability to listen to the client. My daily tasks often involve design of system requirements. To develop system requirements, I must get to know what the client wants and needs. It is a two-way process. I listen to what the client says he or she desires in a computer system. And I teach the client what is possible and what can be done. Sometimes the client decision maker describes a smaller, under-performing system than what he or she really needs. In this case, I must educate the client on the capabilities of our staff to create a better performing product. And sometimes it is just the opposite. The client may ask for more features and performance than is possible with the time and budget available. So I need to identify what it is that the client really needs for the business environment, and pare down the 'pie-in-the-sky wanna-haves' to the 'must-haves' that budget and time allow.

So, a large part of my responsibility is to listen to the client to understand his or her position and job requirements. It is this ability to listen that will be very useful in the classroom. Not when the students are all 'getting it' do I need to apply my listening ability. It is when a student or students are not understanding a lesson, or have other issues, that my ability to shut up and listen to another individual is valuable. In my chosen field of mathematics, it is highly important to understand what has been taught before the current lesson. It takes listening to the student to detect what it is that the student has not acquired.