If I kept track of how many times I have been asked this question, through my entire teacher education and my two and a half years in my own classroom, and gotten paid to entertain an answer, I would not have to teach any more.
The most honest answer I can provide, without becoming a cliché, is I cannot picture myself doing anything else.
So, maybe the better question is why can’t I picture myself doing anything else? It will take some reading to get a possible answer.
I am a new teacher. I entered my classroom during the second part of the year. I was lucky enough to be offered a full-time position following my part-time stay, and I am completing my second full year. In other words, I am not quite tenured. I don’t have many horror stories, and I don’t have a resumé of awards and accomplishments. What I do have is a classroom key that I truly enjoy to use every morning I walk into work. I do not particularly like an early-morning alarm, but I do enjoy the routine to prepare for my students.
Here is the first part to the modified question: I have 78 smiling faces who need me starting at 7:45 in the morning for 180 days. Whether or not they choose to admit it. And, they probably do not want to admit it. I am hopeful that maybe five years after they flee my room, they will realize that Mrs. Hauser mattered (no political pun intended).
I do not dread my work day. I worked jobs that I absolutely loathed. I bartended all through my college years, and even into my career. The money rocked, but I hated it. HAY-TED it. It was a lucrative job, but not a rewarding career. I worked a desk job once. Side note: I sort of do now, too. Supervisor assistant. Data entry. Another side note: I definitely do that now, too. I worked for a contractor at the local Goodyear plant with a bunch of men (not necessarily a terrible thing) and under a boss who was far too misogynistic for me (again, no political debate instigated). The day he cursed me violently over the phone was the day I turned in my security badge and company cell phone, slammed the door with a bird flying in the air, and never went back to that carbon-ridden trailer. I enrolled for upcoming fall semester at community college the next morning.
That was almost ten years ago. At 22, I didn’t pull back out of school until I had my Master’s Degree in my hand. Enter title of Mrs. Hauser. M.Ed. I refused to accept a life-long job of waking up in the morning wondering what fresh hell awaited me when I got to work. Confession: Every once in a while, I wake up with that wonder, but that comes with every job. I just didn’t want that feeling every single day until retirement age. Here’s another part of the answer: I wonder what amazingly wonderful situation will occur with my students. A thought-provoking discussion? A good, humorous conversation? An unexpected positive response to a lesson? A lightbulb moment in grammar?
When I went back to school (yes, BACK to school), I was maybe 95% sure I wanted to teach. Teach what, I didn’t know. I thought elementary at first, but I was super unsure of 20 plus eight-year-olds. Because I wasn’t sold on elementary, I simply took another route. What would I have to do to teach teens? You know, ”I-Have-Everything-I-Need-To-Know-About-Life” pubescent adolescents. It was the craziest thought to ever cross my know-it-all, 22-year-old brain. But I rolled with it. Then, I had to figure out my concentration. I immediately nixed math. Nope. No, thanks. I was really good at math in high school. Until I got to Calculus. I begged guidance to put me somewhere else. I landed in journalism and loved it. I knew my calling before I had any idea. I ruled out science. I took physics at a community college. And flopped. Not even Jesus himself could save me. At that point, I tossed English back and forth in my brain but was not excited about the papers. Reading? Absolutely! Writing?! Eh. So, I put the teaching idea to the side, thought on it, and finished my gen eds.
I read a book. I know that’s such a bold statement, but I most certainly did! It was a great book. A book by the one and only Jodi Picoult. I laughed at the characters. I cried at the resolution. I empathized with the context. I could teach this book to teenagers because it’s about teenagers. I made my decision to teach English because of The Pact. So, there began the journey to a B.A. In English. I realized the passion I had for reading. I have read anything I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember. In the car. On the beach. Under the stars with a flashlight on the tin roof outside my childhood bedroom window. I loved to read, and I still do. I have also read some pretty dull books. Don’t hit me with one, but I hated Lord of the Flies in high school. I revisited it in college. Still hated it. I also expanded my book taste to more than just the newest young adult novel, or the best seller on Amazon. I dove into Shakespeare (and almost drowned), but I have a kind respect for the fella. I fell in love with Virginia Woolf and her complex stream of consciousness. And, I think I found a profound approach to Waiting for Godot. I could go on for days. Another answer to the most frequently asked question: I wanted someone — ANYONE — to share my passion. So, I chose secondary school students. Now, I just need to get my students excited about the sentence diagram. Or, at least, NOT hate it.
I am sure these aren’t the answers people want to hear. They are not cliché. They are not expected. But they are honest. And they are mine. Because I wanted to teach. I love everything about my work. Except, on really super, smooth days, I don’t call it work. I enjoy the reading discussions. I enjoy the essays (though making the grade mark is a different story). I despise standardized testing, but I love the feeling of elation when a student rejoices in a perfect test score. I am right there with ya, kiddo. We did that together. I also really enjoy long, relaxing walks through the Target aisles for school supplies.
So, the question to ask is would I want to do anything else other than teach?
No. The answer is no.