December 23, 2014 14:36 Age: 3 yrs

Why I Teach: An AF Amistad High Teacher’s Story

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Kate Stasik is a Literature II teacher at AF Amistad High.

My journey to teaching was a roundabout one: I became a teacher because my mom told me not to. More precisely, I became a teacher because my mom is a teacher and so she told me not to pursue teaching from a place of deep knowledge and experience, in an attempt to protect her daughter. My decision probably emerged from subconscious and concurrent desires to both defy and emulate my mother; teaching conveniently offered a rare opportunity to do both.

It was as if my mom was unknowingly issuing me a challenge: don’t do this job, it’s really hard. She was right. It is really hard. But not only is teaching really hard, it’s really rewarding. I can’t think of any other job that asks so much, but gives so much more in return.

I teach because of the incredible potential for every day to bring new challenges as well as new rewards.  I teach because I’ve been honored to craft a curriculum that poses rich, worthy questions to teenagers -- whose voices are so often unheeded – and I also get the honor of listening to them develop their answers. I teach because last week, a student who posed one of the greatest challenges of my career two years ago stopped by my classroom say “hi” and to borrow a book.

Thankfully, my mom has embraced my decision to become a teacher. When I call my mom to check in, we always talk about teaching. She knows many of my students by name, even though she lives several states away. We chat about many things: what themes to address in the next book I’m teaching, what my observation feedback suggested I improve in my practice, or ways to reach that one student who seems to not want to speak up in class. She has a wealth of information and she is an incredible sounding board and voice of reason. Good teachers, after all, usually have the answers before you’ve even asked the question.

As a teacher herself, my mom probably knew exactly what she was doing when she told me not to become one; maybe she really wanted me to follow in her footsteps after all.