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?

    Regards,
    Denise

    • 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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