Educators talk about their love of teaching in ‘Humans of Oshkosh’ project


Photo courtesy of Humans of Oshkosh.

WEAC members are among the “Humans of Oshkosh” telling their stories as part of an online community project where they talk about their love of teaching, their support for kids, and the value of public education.

“A good day for me when I teach is when I see students’ excitement about learning,” says Oshkosh teacher and WEAC / Region 5 member Zong Vang, who is participating in the Teachers’ Storytelling Project called Why I Teach. It is part of the broader Humans Of Oshkosh project.

“When students talk about how they can’t wait for the next subject and when they are anxious about learning also makes it a good day because I know that I am a part of helping them explore what learning is all about,” Vang says. “Many times when I tell students that it’s the end of the day, they tell me that the day went by so fast. To me, I think that’s a good day because the students were so engaged in their learning that the time just flew by.”

HumansOfOshkosh_WilfahrtOshkosh teacher and WEAC/Region 5 member James Wilfahrt adds: “I work 70 hours a week and think or dream about it the rest of the time. My holidays are typically spent doing school work because there is really no end to the amount of time you could devote to the teaching profession.”

More from James Wilfahrt:

I don’t make a lot of money, have a lot of money, or do it for the money. I do it because it is what I love to do. To me, a good day of teaching is smooth and balanced. There needs to be fun, and there needs to be the right amount of learning as well. I want lessons to be interesting so I can send my students home in a good mood with many things to share about their day. A good day of teaching is when the students and I accomplish our learning objectives and demonstrate growth.”

More from Zong Vang:

“I was born a U.S. citizen so I was fortunate to learn English and Hmong at the same time. When I was in elementary school, my cousins came to America from Laos not knowing any English. I started teaching them the letters of the alphabet, how to write, and how to pronounce words. From this experience, my passion for helping others started and it made me feel like I was making a difference in their lives. I liked the idea of making a difference in someone’s life so I geared toward teaching.

“I want others to know that teachers work hard every day and year round. Although we may be off in summers, we are teaching summer school, training and participating in workshops all to keep up with the new and changing world so everything we teach is up to date. Teachers also work beyond the expected school hours and it’s sad to say, but we have to sacrifice our own family time to get work done. I have kids of my own and it’s a touchy subject. As a teacher, you go back and forth about if you should be home with your kids or if this is what you should be doing. Since I’ve been teaching I haven’t been able to do many special things with my own children. I’ve never been able to take my children to their first day of school, pick them up from school, or even attend a field trip without having to request a day off for a sub, along with doing lesson plans. These may seem like little things, but if it’s been completely taken away from your life, it makes a big difference especially when your children want you there with them. It’s not easy at all, but I do what I do because I make such a big difference to many children. I know that when I’m home with my children, I give them everything I have and I can do the same for other children who come to school ready to learn and explore. I do what I do because education is the most important part in everyone’s life and if I enjoy teaching, I need to be teaching. Not only that, I want to show my own children the importance of having a career because of an education and to never give up.”

Humans of Oshkosh is modeled after the Humans of New York blog and is produced by the Fall 2015 students enrolled in instructor Grace Lim’s “Telling Stories for Fun, Profit and World Peace” course at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The project will result in a book, an exhibit and a multimedia presentation in April of 2016. A sneak preview of the project will be held at 6 p.m. December 9, 2015, at the Reeve Union Ballroom as part of the University Studies Program’s Quest Talks.


Humans of Oshkosh Facebook page

#Why I Teach

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