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Tennessee

I #LoveTeaching Because I Never Stop Learning

#LoveTeaching Week is a grassroots campaign started by teachers in 2015 as an opportunity to celebrate teaching, leading, and learning in a way that unites and invigorates educators and those they inspire all around the world. Every year, Valentine's Day marks the beginning of a week-long conversation that aims to illuminate why teachers enter and remain in the field of education, offering a mindset shift from the seemingly singular focus on the challenges of the profession. This piece is part of a series of #LoveTeaching content we'll be running all week.
  Why do I love teaching? I had to stop for a moment and think. Was my objective clear enough? Did I put that into the grade book? Did I disinfect the doorknobs? What special do we go to today? What happened to your paper? Do you have the flu? Do I have the flu? It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness of being a teacher that the bigger question can get lost in the shuffle. So many thoughts have run through my head as I have thought about this, but one keeps coming up: I love teaching because I get to keep learning every day. When I was a little girl, I couldn’t keep up with the number of jobs I wanted when I got to that elusive “when I grow up.” I wanted to be a historian, astronomer, sculptor, Egyptologist, marine biologist, gemologist. I wanted to crack the genetic code, edit a magazine, curate a museum. The list goes on and on. I loved that my teachers and my family encouraged my desire to learn about all the jobs I was interested in. Then I discovered there was a job that could literally make the rest of those other ones happen: teaching. And I get an opportunity to share that love of learning with our next generation every day!

Every Day, I Learn from My Colleagues and My Students

Few professions provide the challenge of constant change, day in and day out. There is always a problem seeking a solution, a puzzle that needs solving. I love that I get a chance to come up with ideas, plans and solutions for how to make learning accessible for all. I love that I get to work alongside dedicated professionals who are committed to giving all our students an opportunity to grow and achieve. I love that I get to collaborate with my colleagues and learn from their experiences and expertise. I love that I get to keep my own skill set sharp through professional development opportunities . Besides the intellectual challenge that our profession provides, I love that I learn every day from our kids. Besides being intuitive and thoughtful, kids are hilarious! The delighted enthusiasm my kids bring to their days is admirable. No one matter what kind of weather we may bring to our days, kids always find a way to make sunshine out of the storms. That is inspiring! I cannot count the number of times when I have had kids make meaningful connections that have deepened my knowledge and perspective on the content that I have taught. I love that I can keep learning through their eyes each day. A mentor once told me, “As soon as you become the most important person in the classroom, you should no longer be in the classroom.” And while I agree, I would amend that slightly: “As soon as you think you have learned all you can, then it’s time for you to leave the classroom.” For every teacher, this comes at a different point. But for me, I look forward to the continuing challenge of learning every day, because that’s why I love to teach.
Shelly Gaughan teaches kindergarten at East End Preparatory School in Nashville. She won Tennessee’s Milken Educator Award in October 2018.

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