Teaching is a passion, not just a job

Teachers need to be passionate about what they do but today, they also need help balancing the stresses of their personal and professional lives, Texas Teacher of the Year Tara Bordeaux told the State Board of Education.

“It’s not just about how much rigor we can throw at kids. As teachers, we are passionate about our subject, of course, whether it is film or math. You want kids to walk out statisticians, or veterinarians or whatever you are passionate about. You want to pass that passion on,” said the media arts teacher from the Austin Independent School District.

But Bordeaux said, “We have to make sure we bring in teachers who love kids. You have to love the kids.”

She knows this from first-hand experience because a teacher’s love for her students saved her life. Bordeaux dropped out of high school and was contemplating suicide. Her high school chemistry teacher came to Bordeaux’s job and talked her into coming back to school and showed her she was valued.

Bordeaux admits that she doesn’t remember much about chemistry, but she remembers how much that teacher cared about her. She said it’s important to find ways to keep strong teachers in the classroom.

“We have to respect it as a profession, not as a job,” she said. It’s also important to find ways to reduce the stress teachers face, she said.

She told the board one story about a teacher and his spouse who had saved for six years to make a down payment on a house. One year later after their taxes went up 25 percent, they are faced with giving up their dream house or finding higher paying jobs. “As far as growing our family, that isn’t even an option right now. It would probably bankrupt us,” the teacher told Bordeaux.

 Many teachers face similar dilemmas.

 “How can they pay their bills and take care of what is happening in the classroom? If they are stressed, the students feel it. How can we truly help teachers have that balance between their personal live and their professional live because to us, teaching is personal,” she said.