Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing

What I Love Most About Teaching

loveteachingNever in a million years did I ever think I would find myself in the teaching field. In third grade, I swore I was going to be a court reporter. In eighth grade, I was going to be the next Joan Jett. In high school, I wanted to pursue a career in music. At the onset of college, it was accounting, then music marketing, then public relations, then business, and ultimately, journalism.

I had big dreams to get OUT of school, not to stay in it.

As hard as I worked to get out of school as an undergraduate, something kept pulling me back. As if the 200 credit hours I earned while switching my major six times wasn’t enough of a lesson, I learned the most important lesson of all – I loved being in school.

And the journey began. I envisioned this piece of cake career where every student was impressionable, eager, and excited about writing. To say the least, I was delusional during the first semester I taught College Composition.

Teachers (elementary to higher ed) can attest to the challenges associated with the profession. The hours are long, the pay is often minimal, and the emotional drain of witnessing occasional lackluster effort is sometimes disheartening.

I have found, though, that the rewards of teaching often creep up on me when I need them the most, which is what led to my list of “What I love the most about teaching.”

  • I love the first day of school: I love the butterflies and nervousness of the first day. I get the jitters and the students get them. The jitters are a sign that we are all willing to take a risk, step outside of our comfort zones and learn something new.
  • I love the uncertainty and spontaneity of each new class: On day one, 25 sets of eyes stare at you for 50 minutes, slowly contemplating whether or not this class will kill them or not, whether or not you will be the “nice” teacher or the “mean” teacher, whether or not you will kill their social life with writing assignments, and whether or not they will leave the course with a stronger knowledge of writing. But magically, over the course of the next few weeks, the dynamics of the class start to mesh, people actually talk and contribute to worthwhile discussions, teamwork ensues, and the negativity of being forced to take a general education course fades.
  • I love witnessing the light bulb moments: Even as a teacher, I’m still learning, so not only is it enlightening to see firsthand when my students “get” a concept, it is equally cool to see how their learning affects my learning.
  • I love seeing the confidence in my students’ eyes: Every semester I walk into a classroom full of 25 students, many doubting their abilities to write. As they complete one writing project after another, slowly they begin to realize their strengths. Some realize a sense of creativity, some discover strengths with structure or organization, while others find a distinct writing voice. No matter what they discover, they have gained confidence in the process.
  • I love watching my students’ success surpass my own: Not only do I get to teach in the classroom, I also get the opportunity to teach/advise in a student newsroom. Advising offers the same rewards as teaching because it IS teaching. What I enjoy the most about advising is seeing the success of my students published. I see them learning on a regular basis through trial and error, I see them take risks and step outside of their comfort zones, and most of all, I see them achieving success. If every one of my students surpass my success, make more money, and publish more articles, I will feel completely satisfied as a teacher.

More than anything, I love that teaching allows me to be a part of an environment that fosters growth, learning, teamwork, and diversity. It’s not a perfect environment at all times – it is a work-in-process, as it should be. It is a classroom – an eccentric, messy, loud classroom full of aspiring writers – and there’s no other place I’d rather be.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Aug. 23, 2009

© Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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