This blog post was originally published on January 10, 2017 on Mike Lerchenfeldt's personal blog, The Light Bulb.

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Why do I teach, you ask?  I teach, because it is a highly rewarding and fulfilling profession. Teachers have one of the most important, meaningful, and purpose-driven jobs of anyone today. We share valuable information and important skills to encourage a love of learning that will serve students the rest of their lives. I do this work because I am committed to having a positive impact on the future of each student that I serve.

I wake up each morning and serve students at Iroquois Middle School. Being a role model and teaching students the skills and knowledge they need beyond the classroom is extremely inspiring and rewarding. No two days in teaching are ever the same. 

For me, now a teacher myself, my motivation has always come from students in my classroom. I know that it is essential to make lesson plans interesting in order to get all students motivated about learning. I emphasize the collaborative and cooperative nature of scientific work. I do my best to creatively facilitate the engaging interaction between students and provide feedback based on their observations. 

Teachers need perseverance, passion, validation, and hope; and today, given all that is happening, it is an excellent time to be a teacher.

My former teachers helped me get where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education. The math, reading, and writing skills I developed as a student supported me in my journey to becoming a successful teacher today. Playing sports and being involved in student government taught me valuable life lessons about teamwork, time management, and responsibility. As a student, I learned the benefits of getting along with people from different cultures, which continues to assist me in my career. This lesson came full circle, in fact, when I recently traveled to New Zealand for a teacher exchange program to learn from and share my experiences with foreign educators from abroad.

So many educators had a positive influence on my life. They encouraged me to explore my curiosities, supported me with my struggles, and celebrated my successes. They cared about me, my learning, my life, and they wanted me to find happiness within myself so that I could be capable of helping others. They inspired me and pushed me to be my best in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I am now trying to pay this positive influence forward to my students.

 

During my time in the classroom, I have learned so much about myself, my practice, my students:

Be persistent. Never give up on students, parents, and colleagues. Everyone is in this together, and it truly takes a village to educate a child properly.

Be open-minded. Listen to other people and their opinions. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. Communication and organization is essential for highly effective teachers. 

Think positive. There is a lot of negativity out in the world, especially within the field of education. You need to have a positive outlook in order to combat all of the negativity.

Try different roles until you find your niche. Spend time with different people and in various extracurricular activities. Use your hobbies and passions as a guide.

Always want to learn. Whether it is a new technology or a new teaching strategy, teachers are life-long learners. We need to be learning alongside our students and show how passionate we are in seeking knowledge. 

[Excerpted from my previous post, “Why I Teach”]

As I reflect on my role as a Proud Michigan Educator and advocator for the teaching profession, I continue to realize that teaching is a multifaceted job and not just a trade. The daily rewards and challenges make every day unique, and most importantly, worth it all.  

Mike Lerchenfeldt earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Oakland University and his Masters of Education Degree in Educational Leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. He taught in New Zealand through a teacher exchange program. Since 2008, Mike has been a math and science teacher in the Chippewa Valley Schools. He is a member of Michigan Education Association and Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning. Mike is dedicated to student success and enjoys being an active member of the community. He is a Blogger at The Light Bulb for Digital First Media. Connect on Twitter @mj_lerch.

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