Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

What do you love most about teaching?

09 Feb 2024 6:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

What do you love most about teaching? Take a moment to reflect on your answer. I’m confident your answer did not include “the pay.” I have taught for more than three decades, and on most days, I love my job.  I still cannot believe I get paid to do what I do.

I put this question to a couple of my colleagues. Both are early career psychology professors. Each mentioned the thing they love the most about teaching is the ability to impart knowledge about psychology to others. One colleague added that it allows them to talk about psychology to a captive audience. I think these comments reflect how many of us feel, or have felt, about the teaching of psychology.

After many years of teaching, I’ve come to love my job because I now know I make a difference in the lives of my students. This may sound a bit self-aggrandizing, but I have evidentiary proof. Social media has given me the gift of remaining in contact with former students like never before. This continued contact gives me a glimpse into their lives after college. Occasionally, these individuals contact me and cite a specific previous interaction that has impacted their and their families' lives. I am grateful when someone recalls a particular event from class, a comment from an earlier conversation, or explains how they turned a psychological concept into something actionable. These interactions help me realize that what I do does make a difference in the world.

While teaching my students about psychology, they often teach me about pop culture, current events, and constantly challenge me to re-examine some of my beliefs. In other words, my current students keep me young at heart and encourage my continued cognitive growth through their questions and conversations. As I stated above, I love my job!

It is easy for us sometimes to lose sight of the joy we receive through teaching. Strained institutional budgets, governmental oversight, and politicization of the educational system can make even the most stalwart educator question their career choice. But take a moment to breathe and realize you are doing great work! You are changing lives! I appreciate your dedication to the teaching of psychology.

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