One part of this journey included an observation class this spring. I was placed in a classroom and spent a total of 81.5 hours there observing an interacting with the students, their teacher, and their parapros in a K-2 resource room. It was a fantastic experience.
At the end of the class, we had to write a short essay on why, after going through 80+ hours in a classroom setting, we still wanted to be teachers. I wanted to share my response here, especially for my teacher friends/family, perhaps as a way of saying "I get it, and I'm staying."
I hope you enjoy.
June 2nd, 2015
Why I (Still) Want to be a Teacher
There are always mixed reactions when you tell a group of people that you want to be a teacher. There are those who warn you about lack of job opportunity, question your future financial stability, and scold you for ‘wasting your intelligence’ – after all, you could be a rocket scientist if you wanted to be! (God help you [me] if you tell them you want to go into Special Education.) Then, there are those who encourage you, praise your efforts, and wish you well on your journey. The latter group is usually made up of teachers. This is because teachers are the ones who truly understand what I, as a candidate for the College of Education, am feeling these days. They were in my shoes at some point – an eager student, working hard in school just to go to school every day for the rest of their careers, because there’s something about a classroom and about learning that draws us in and makes us want to share the knowledge we’ve retained.
There are, of course, times when teaching is a disillusion to anyone. In my hours of field work I have witnessed meltdowns, given tests that were horribly failed, observed the exact opposite of progress with a concept, and been coughed and sneezed on too many times to count. I have had students do the contrary of what I told them to do, talk back to me, yell “NO!” as loud as their little lungs could bare, cry, and then apologize and do their work as asked all within ten minutes. I want to be a teacher because I know that these are the rare moments in the scheme of things. However frequent they may feel, as a teacher there is a part of you that knows that this is not the norm, and that these children do try their best most of the time.
I want to be a teacher because every child deserves to know that they are important and capable despite any circumstance. The classroom I’ve been observing is a special education resource room, with students from all different backgrounds, and with a range of abilities. I am confident that every single one of those students can be successful. I have combated any and every “I can’t do this” with a “Yes you CAN” because I believe it. They may not make it to quite the same level as their peers, but the important thing is that they know they can accomplish things and achieve greatness wherever they may fall on a spectrum or however challenging things are for them. They deserve the chance to get there. At the end of the day, I want any utterance of “I can’t” to turn into “I did!”
When you know you want to be a teacher, your desire is confirmed through those with whom you interact. In my case, during the past few weeks specifically, I have had many moments where I could step back and affirm that yes, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I found them each time a student asked me for help with an assignment. I found them when a meltdown gave way into a calm work session with excellent results. I found them when the students greeted me each morning, and with each assessment score that was leaps and bounds above the previous one. I found them in the stories I heard from them, the quirks they have, and in the way they’d celebrate when they accomplished a task. Every day I spent in Room 20 – no matter what testing was messing up the schedule or what life event called someone away - showed me that I most definitely still want to be a teacher. The students, teachers, and paraprofessionals, though they may not know it, continued to affirm what I truly believe is my calling, and know for a fact is my passion.
So when I tell the next group of people I meet with that I still want to be a teacher, I’ll be ready for their reactions. Yes, there are in fact jobs out there for me. No, I’m not concerned about my financial future – none of us are ever in it for the money. No, I am not wasting my intelligence, I am sharing it with the next generation of doctors, scientists, writers, and yes, teachers, too. Yes, I am going into Special Education – no matter how many times you tell me I will burn out or wish I’d changed my mind, because I won’t. And when they all are done trying to convince me to run in the other direction, I will smile at my encouragers, because they are the ones who understand why I’m here. It’s not for me, and it’s not for them. It’s for each and every student that will one day walk through my classroom door.
*Please, if you share, give credit where it's due. I do have a copyright on the blog. :)