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  • LoveTeaching Week

A Passion for Progress

Why would anyone love teaching? In the current climate of the teaching profession, how could anyone truly love it? Social media is filled with reasons why people are leaving the profession in droves. It would seem as though all that people seem to talk about is how administrators and parents mistreat teachers and other misgivings of the job. The news media reports daily on school boards that are tackling various social issues on both sides of the aisle, teachers who exhibit a lack in judgment, and students who physically harm their teachers. The general public is filled with strong opinions on all matters of education. Are there those who still love this profession? Possibly. But most importantly, why would anyone still choose this career yet alone love it?

Love is a word we throw around freely as a way to describe excitement or a superficial verb to describe a mediocre feeling. “I love that sweater” or “I love this book.” That is the way we typically use the word love. To truly love something, or someone, is an intense feeling of affection and care. There are various degrees of love and ways to demonstrate that love. The degree and ways to which you love something changes over time. How does one love an inanimate object like a job? Passion and progress.

When one is passionate toward something they have a deep longing to see it through to the very end. They become invested. I have a passion for teaching and learning that is deep within the core of who I am as a person. I feel deeply for the climate and culture of learning, how we learn, and what we learn. I am passionate about the policies and politics that infiltrate the learning profession, but most of all, I am passionate about the progress of my students.

If I had to use one word to describe why I love teaching it would be progress. As a teacher, you don’t always see progress in students immediately. Sometimes it takes years to see the fruits of your labor and in some cases you never see them at all. I have had the unique opportunity to teach a class of students for four years. The class first became “mine” when they were in the sixth grade. The next year several of them were with me again in seventh grade. When those students started ninth grade due to a change in our district, I had moved to ninth through twelfth grades. It was a privilege to have them again as ninth graders and then some of them for tenth grade. By this time I had developed relationships with them and they frequented my classroom to talk or just say hello even if they didn’t take my class. Now they are juniors, some are seniors, and I have since moved to elementary school. When the Assistant Superintendent presented me with an opportunity to return to elementary I knew it was time. Through big tears I told him I would miss my high schoolers dearly but it was time to leave them. I don’t think he will ever know how much that group of students means to me and how much I learned from them. I learned to love teaching in a whole new way. Yes, I had taught for years and enjoyed it. However, I had never paid attention to the progress of my students and understood the unique journey I was on. The greatest moments of my teaching career are watching my students grow into mature and productive young adults. Now I have fallen head-over-heels in love with another new group of kiddos that I can watch progress into curious adolescents. Even in this current state of education, where teachers want to get out as quickly as they got into it, there are teachers who still love the job. Why? Because they can look past the noise and see the progress that is to come. They have a passion for progress that is insurmountable. A colleague of mine is a first year kindergarten teacher. I am an adjunct professor for a local university and she was one of my students while she was working on her teaching degree. I now also get to watch her progress and her passion grow for this great profession. It is a tremendous joy!

Watching my students develop interests they never knew they had, discovering what they want to be when they grow up, sharing in the excitement of getting their driver's license, experiencing the first heartbreak, and learning from their mistakes can be a wild ride of progress; but it is definitely worth buying the ticket.

Courtney Ball is a dedicated teacher of 21 years. She currently teaches for the Marion School District in Northeast Arkansas and is an adjunct professor for Arkansas State University’s Department of Elementary Education. Dr. Ball is an Advocacy Fellow for the Arkansas State Teacher Association (ASTA) for the 2022 - 2023 academic year.

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