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Celebrating World Teachers Day 2012: On why I teach

Sadly, there is no World Professors Day, but there is World Teachers Day, so I figured I would dust off a couple of blog posts that were published on my personal site, but are definitely worth revisiting. The first one mentions the reasons behind my love of teaching.

Communities That Rock: Creating Kick-Ass Online CommunitiesI began teaching at UBC in 2006, although I took a little break around 2008. When I came back to teach at The University of British Columbia a few years ago (I teach in the department of Political Science, at the undergraduate level), a whole new world re-opened. Not teaching for a little while, I had completely forgotten how fulfilling teaching is for me. I teach not because I *have* to but because I love it.

Seeing my students go “aha!” and understanding how policy analysts are challenged by temporal and resource constraints, and how they need to do their analytical jobs under pressure. Watching how they grow into amazing professionals who do make a difference in the world. Keeping in touch with them and following their progress as they mature, and often times, they do come back and tell me how much of an impact I made in their lives. Last night, I met with two of my bright former students to share stories, and it just reminded me how proud I am of them and of how much they’ve grown throughout the years.

Knowing that I have made a difference on my students’ lives is part of what fuels me to teach. Sharing my expertise and experiences in the policy world across nations (I’m a specialist in comparative environmental policy in North America) and being able to build my students’ skills (in the public speaking, research and writing realms), and challenging them to think differently, to view the world through a holistic lens, is what fuels me to teach.

Regardless of how tired I am, whenever I enter the classroom, I am transfixed, I feel that I have enough energy to go through the lecture. And that’s simply an amazing feeling of empowerment and fulfilment. My home department at the university treats me in an extremely collegial way and I have wonderful colleagues. I am pretty happy to teach. It’s something I never will stop doing, hopefully.

Today we celebrate World Teacher’s Day (the theme is Gender Equality in Teaching).

Since 1994 World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on 5 October. It is an opportunity for UNESCO and Education International to celebrate the profession and to promote international standards for the teaching profession. The theme for this year is: Teachers for gender equality.

Despite the teaching profession being made up largely of women, inequality remains an issue. Even if measures to ensure equality are enshrined into the policies and constitutions of many states, for millions of female teachers, the goals remain unfulfilled. The teaching profession, both men and women, must unite and urge governments to implement their commitments. Let’s move from words to action: WTD is your day!

To my fellow educators, teachers, professors, and anybody who is in the teaching profession, here is a little motivator for you to remind you why you teach: Taylor Mali on what teachers make:

For me, being a professor means a life-long contract with those students of mine I agree to mentor. It also means that I spend time advising students on how to tackle school and professional life. Ever since I began working at CIDE Region Centro, I have felt the need to teach (I have full teaching release for 2012-2013, which is fantastic for my research, but I do miss the classroom). I have been invited to guest lecture in Public Policy and in Introduction to International Relations, so I’m really happy about that.

As I posted in 2009,

Teaching is not only in my genes, but it is in my blood, it is in my soul and it’s something I adore doing. I have taught at all levels (high school, undergraduate, Masters and PhD), I have taught in different languages (mostly Spanish and English) and I have taught in different countries. I have taught a broad variety of subjects: strategic management, microeconomics, environmental management, environmental policy, public policy, leather chemistry and even some social media stuff.

The most important thing is, I teach because I am passionate about it. I love shaping my students’ thinking processes. I love sharing what I have learned. I love helping people grow and learn. It pains me whenever a semester goes by and I don’t teach.

To my Mom (who is still a professor at her university), my brothers (who are both associate professors in US universities), to my former PhD supervisor and my instructors/professors/teachers, my friends who teach in each one of their respective countries, and everyone else who is a teacher in one way or another, my congratulations. We are all contributing in one way or another to the growth of our societies.

To my fellow educators, for Worlds Teachers Day (whether you are a full professor, or a grade-school teacher, or a part time lecturer, whichever your role): enjoy your day, you deserve it.

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