Why Do I Teach?

I’ve been inspired by Denise Krebs (Dare to Care) and the Fellowship of Open Spokes (Membership Information) to answer the question: Why do I teach?

The long answer would be the story of how I became a faculty member at Niagara College. The short answer is: because it’s fun, and I love it!

My Background Story (The Long Answer)

When I was in grade 11, my chemistry teacher sparked my love of science. I remember that she had a tie-dyed lab coat and we performed lots of experiments that involved explosions or open flames. She selected me, out of all the girls in my class, to attend a 2-day workshop at Brock University (Scientifically Yours) and at that moment I decided to pursue a career in chemistry.

I did all of my post-secondary schooling at Brock, actually. After completing a 4-year Bachelors degree in biochemistry, I began my Masters in chemistry. After only 4 months though, I realized that research was not my passion (it was a mental struggle to even step into the lab). As part of my graduate studies, I was required to be a laboratory demonstrator for the first-year chemistry course. I was responsible for delivering mini-lectures as lab introductions and I loved every minute of it! I transferred into the education department as soon as I was able.

While completing my Masters in education, a family friend suggested that I submit my CV to Niagara College. Knowing the number of unemployed teachers in Ontario, I never imagined that I would be hired as a partial load professor. While preparing my lecture materials for my first day of classes, I remember thinking back to my days in high school chemistry and wondered how I could create the same sort of classroom environment for my Pre-Health Science college students. I ordered myself a monogrammed black lab coat to get started and haven’t looked back since.

So why do I teach?

I hated being in a research lab. I hated the pressure to produce results, and the sense of failure when a chemical reaction didn’t work the way I expected it to.

I loved being a student and learning new things about science and the natural world. I then loved being able to share that knowledge with others.

I teach because I find it fun to learn, and I have never found a better opportunity to learn new things than by becoming a teacher.

I try to have fun while I teach, so maybe my students are having fun as well. I don’t think that academic standards are lessened by student satisfaction.

I teach because I have never experienced a greater sense of accomplishment than in that moment when a student deepens their understanding of the universe in some small way.

I teach because my students show their appreciation. They actually say “thank you” and these two simple words encourage me to work harder every day.

So why do you teach?

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2 Responses to Why Do I Teach?

  1. Steph,
    This is awesome. I’m so glad you told the long story. I envision you now doing the same for young women scientists as your high school teacher did for you. Paying it forward. So great!

    Thank you for the shout out. I am quite sure you are going to be even more energized, challenged, and rewarded now that you’ve joined the blogging world. Are you considering joining the Open Spokes Fellowship too?


    • Prof Steph S says:

      Open Spokes looks like such a wonderful idea. I’ll be checking in with them regularly, but I don’t own a webcam yet to contribute. That will hopefully change soon, so I will definitely be thinking about it for the future. Thanks for all the encouragement!

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