Sometimes my students ask me if I always wanted to be a teacher.
“I think I did,” I say. “But I didn’t realize it.”
Many times in my six years of working in the Writing Center at our local community college as a tutor and TA, different English professors would ask me if I wanted to go into teaching.
“I don’t think so,” I would reply. “I’m not good in front of large groups of people.”
Indeed, when I learned about the opening for a high school English teacher at my current job and applied, both the principal and my family questioned whether, with my quiet personality, I’d be able to handle a whole classroom of lively teenagers.
My students do tell me I’ve gotten “louder” over these past two years. 🙂
It hasn’t always been easy. As a confessed people-pleaser who dearly loves to be liked, it’s hard sometimes to focus on establishing respect and authority first, whether my students like me right off or not. And I still hate giving detentions, though sometimes it is necessary.
And it’s still not my favorite thing to be in front of large groups—though I’ve come to enjoy being in front of a group of students I love, my heart still pounds a bit when I have to address the whole student body (plus teachers!) at an occasional assembly.
But I love teaching.
I love sharing my love of story and literature and history with students, and—at least sometimes—seeing them catch the excitement. I love seeing them earnestly debate the plot points of a story or enter into a class Medieval Feast as we celebrate The Canterbury Tales.
I love seeing young people’s gifts and creativity blossom, as they write amazing short stories of fantasy, contemporary characters, or science fiction, or dramatically stage scenes from Shakespeare that make me laugh with delight.
I love talking about deep things with my students, as we dig into the darker sides of history or deep philosophical questions through literature, whether discussing Native American short stories, To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Years a Slave, The Count of Monte Cristo, or The Giver. I love seeing them think deeply and critically in our Socratic Discussions, learning to listen to each other’s points of view, defend their own, and agree to disagree. I love seeing them grow in their faith and make it their own, and seeing God’s faithfulness as He works in their lives.
I love when we get to the point of being able to have fun together, when my students make me laugh, and when they actually enjoy just talking to me as a person. I’ve definitely come to understand Anna’s “Getting to Know You” lyrics in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I more deeply since I became a teacher myself.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised…so many of my favorite books and movies growing up were about teachers. Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Avonlea, the Grandma’s Attic series, Catherine Marshall’s Christy. My first novel manuscript is about a teacher. And one of my best friends and I loved playing school when we were about ten and twelve, complete with sunbonnets, slates, and a big doll and my then-toddler sister for extra pupils.
So I guess I did always want to be a teacher…I just didn’t realize it. And I’m looking forward to yet another school year starting next week!
What about you? Have you found yourself doing something as an adult that you really always wanted to as a child? Or something that you never thought you would like or be good at? I’d love to hear your story!