What Motivates Our Teachers?

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Cover Photo: AP Environmental Science and Biology teacher Erica Woll with graduating students.

The average person works 40 hours per week. Over a lifetime, that adds up to around 90,000 hours. Clearly, one’s profession is an important part of their life. But how do people stay motivated to devote so much of their time and effort to their work? Finding motivation is difficult for any job but especially one that takes an enormous amount of energy and patience. Yet M-A staff come day in and day out to provide students with quality education and guidance. So, what gets our teachers into the classroom every morning?

“It’s the little things for me,” said Ethnic Studies and U.S History teacher Kelsey Takahashi. “It’s really cool to see students feel impacted by my class.”

AP Environmental Science and Biology teacher Erica Woll emphasized the close-knit community in her classes, saying, “Each class is a little family, and they keep it interesting.” 

It goes without saying that the profession can be enormously taxing. Woll said, “It can be really draining. It’s like a job where you are constantly presenting, but you don’t have time to make your presentation. Managing some of the students’ behaviors can also be difficult.”

Fronk with students

Fronk emphasized the hyper-competitiveness of college applications as another difficulty for teachers. “In recent years, the pressure on students to get into college has made teaching more difficult,” she explained. “The pressure put on students to get good grades can impact my ability to teach, what I teach, and how I teach.” 

In addition, effects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain. Takahashi said, “It brought a lot of uncertainties, and I’m still recovering from it with my own work ethic and my own life. It really made me reframe what’s important in my life, and maybe it’s the same for students.” 

Nonetheless, teachers often manage to stay motivated even after a challenging day. “It’s just exciting to see where students are going to go,” said Takahashi. “I think that’s what keeps me in the classroom.”

Woll said, “I remind myself that every day is different. I like how teaching is not repetitive; literally every day, every class period is different. I also remind myself that I work with kids, and that kids–like everyone–often make mistakes.”

Teachers play an enormous—and at many times difficult—role in students’ lives by educating, guiding, and providing support for them.

When asked if she had ever considered another career, Fronk said, “All the time, every single day of my life. Why didn’t I? Because I still like teaching.”

Mateo is a junior at M-A. This is his first year in journalism. He hopes to write about a variety of issues, ranging from athletic events to administration spending. In his free time he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, and reading.

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