Schooling Magazine

Why I LOVE Teaching…

By Jenrene

I wrote this for Teaching Tolerance - a magazine I love that helps teach young people about justice and life, and culture.

Why I LOVE Teaching…

By JenRene Owens

I teach because knowledge is power. I teach because I love the intrigue on faces when a new idea is presented. The eagerness to learn and the energy and desire to explore fills my heart with joy. I love that teaching stirs the soul and shows potential. I love that teaching inspires the heart and helps us to focus on our dreams more clearly. I teach about life, about sorrow, pain and hardship. My teaching about justice open new avenues for others in the path of my students, because they  are able to then leave a legacy about how to help others be inspired.  They are able to offer others diverse perspectives and extend the same baton to take new chances in life. Their knowledge they share helps to strengthen and inspire someone else.

Teaching inspires me to be the best in what I can be. As I child, I would love school because it opened up a new world to me. I loved to see my teacher engage others in dialog. The mystery that came out of hearing others’ points of view, hearing about their culture debating issues at hand and hearing their experiences – which were so different from mine, showed me that this was a place I wanted to spend lots of time. I wanted to create this kind of energy and inspire confidence in a room, help others discover something about themselves and others.  Learning history as a teenager has had such a phenomenal impact on me. This is why I can truly respect what Teaching Tolerance does to help students to notice the unnoticeable, to address taboo subjects and help them find their voices. To help student learn about the world, other cultures of people and to encourage them to make an impact and ‘make history’, leaves an awesome impression on their minds and hearts.

I once visited South Africa on an educational leave, and returned to the States to share some of the pictures and stories with my students. The pictures led to deep discussions with my afterschool class peer leadership class about the Middle Passage. We took on a classroom project to create a diversity virtual museum and share it with the rest of the students in school. Students who created the projects were tour guides to share what they learned and some became educators for the first time in their lives. We created projects and they had a naming ceremony where they explored the meaning of their names.  The results? They begin to have a different respect for one another, a new understanding for the sufferings of the African culture and developed a new compassion and empathy. We were able to find out that before there was a Middle Passage there were kings and queens, and the power this had on the youth, enlivened their curiosity and cultural pride in a phenomenal way. I will take away several gems from their learning experience that is forever imprinted on my mind and heart.

Influence minds and impacting lives for ages to come, has such a powerful impact. It means so much when a student from my past comes to me and says: “What I learned from you, helped build my future.” Some of these students never came back to say a word, yet the unspoken language of what ‘their eyes speak’ is what have caused me sheer joy. When you can see them being successful and you know your persistence and hard work in the classroom has impacted their lives, their children’s lives, their families and the world- truly leaves one speechless. Seeing confidence rise in a student’s voice – seeing it in their actions and choices – and seeing it impact their futures because now they have an opinion and are able to voice it because they have learned new information, inspires me!

As a leader, the openness, self-confidence, self-evaluation and intrigue teaching has offered me over the years has inspired my own personal growth. Also, getting to know my students and bond with them on a human level – has helped me to understand people of all cultures and lifestyles. I have gained so much as a teacher over the past 15 years; I would trade it, nor the lives I impacted for anything in the world. The enlightenment I leave behind for those who truly desired to understand – lights another… and another… and another… and one day they all will shine in some magnificent way because of what teaching inspired in them.

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