As I was thinking about this question over the past couple of days, I found it difficult to verbalize an answer. I kept thinking, I just teach! I fell into teaching as I was looking for a way to justify my English degree to my mom… and I ended up loving every moment of it, including curriculum design. But as I thought about it today, while running around like a sweaty, headless chicken setting up my classroom, I realized that I teach because I care.
I care about our young people, whose lives are often full of experiences they cannot understand or process. I care about our young people who will grow to lead and—hopefully—change the world. I care about making their adolescence, which is such a difficult time, a time that they can remember fondly and learn from. I care about training future leaders in kindness and empathy and open-mindedness. I care about being a person that they can trust and learn from, both in and out of the classroom.
I care about words. In English, in Spanish, in French, in Hebrew, and in any language I learn later. I care about what words mean, and how they can shape the world. I care about the books that are formed by those words—books that are bridges to worlds I wish to visit and worlds I have known and grow by experiencing in a different way. I care about the way that words can encapsulate all of those different, complex emotions that can sometimes rule us as people.
And, finally, I care about equality. I care about education. I care about racial and social and economic disparities that can only be bridged through education. I care about empowerment and knowledge. I care about social change, and bringing it about, and keeping it going—and picking up the pieces that will inevitably fall. I care about what the world is like now, and what it can be, and what my students will want it to be. Simply, I care about the people of today, the injustices they face, and the change that they will bring.