Why do I stay? This question is circulating on blogs and in videos by teachers from across the country. My friend Catherine, a teacher and literacy specialist, brought this question to my attention in her post this week. She was participating in a challenge organized by Two Writing Teachers called The Slice of Life. The instructions for participating are on a link that goes first to a definition (“Slice of life is a phrase describing the use of mundane realism depicting everyday experiences in art and entertainment“) while other links provide procedures:
WRITE your slice. SHARE your link. GIVE some comments to (at least three) other slicers.
On one post she linked her Slice of Life post to blogger Beth Shaum’s video “Why I Stay”. Catherine listed her reasons for staying and noted that other teachers have written about their reasons for remaining in the classroom, “despite changes in curriculum because of Common Core State Standards, new testing, and new evaluations that are being imposed on educators.” The video on Shaum’s blog addresses startling statistics about the teaching and the education profession:
More than 30% of new educators quit teaching after three years, and nearly 50% leave before hitting the five-year mark. (USNews.com)
Shaum’s video showed dozens of teachers from around the country sharing their reasons for staying in education.
I have not written to The Slice of Life challenge, but I did think the idea of recording my personal reasons as to why I have stayed and taught for 22 years in grades 6-12 would be an exercise that could both help me frame my own thinking and possibly encourage younger teachers who are often overwhelmed.
My reason for “why I stay” is purely selfish.…I want to share the stories.
I want to share with children, teens, and adults the stories they have read, seen, or heard.
I want to share the stories in picture books.
I want to share the stories in chapter books.
I want to share the stories in the canon.
So, I teach students to read stories so that we can talk and share the stories that make us human..
I want to share books.
I want to share books at every grade level.
I want to share books:
- Go, Dog, Go
- Hungry Hungry Sharks
- The Whales Go By
I want to share more books:
- Nancy Drew’s The Password to Larkspur Lane
- The Twenty-One Balloons
- A Wrinkle in Time
I want to share novels:
- Of Mice and Men
- The Road
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
I want to share stories written as dramas. I want to talk about:
- The Importance of Being Ernest
I want to share stories made into film. I want to talk about:
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- The Wizard of Oz
- The Shawshank Redemption
I want to share stories in poems. I want to talk about:
- The Odyssey
- Paradise Lost
- The Cremation of Sam McGee
I want to share the stories in paintings. I want to talk about:
- The Fall of Icarus
- George Washington Crossing the Delaware
I want to share the stories that were responsible for essays and speeches. I want to talk about:
- The Gettysburg Address
- A Modest Proposal
I want to share the stories of people’s lives, stories about nature, and stories that mark cultural trends. I want to share:
- Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
- Silent Spring
- The Tipping Point
From the ancient lights of the campfires to the soft glow from a Kindle, our stories record our humanity.I stayed 22 years in teaching because I want students to understand that record of humanity. I stayed 22 years in teaching because I want students to respond to stories through writing and through speaking. And I stayed because I wanted to encourage students to record their own stories. I want to read and hear and see their stories.
In this great cultural experiment of public education for ALL, I stay to share the stories.