I recently had the distinct pleasure of returning to my alma mater to speak to undergraduate and graduate students in the same teaching program I went through. It was incredibly surreal to be back nine years later, and feel as if it were only yesterday.
It got me thinking: What I would say to my former student self? Or more importantly what would I have wanted someone to say to me? So here's what I would say to anyone about to become or already a teacher.
Dear Future Teacher,
You are why the world works. You are the common denominator. No, really, you are. Everyone starts in school. Everyone from astronauts, actresses, lawyers... presidents, they all start in school. Teachers are why they become successful, why they meet their goals, why they reach the stars.
I bet you're similar to me; you knew your entire life that you loved children, that you wanted to work with them, that you wanted to babysit, be a camp counselor. Of course the path for anyone who is so passionate about working with children is becoming a teacher.
Embrace that always. Never let anyone make you forget why you started out on this course. You did it to enrich the lives of children, to make their lives better, to help them succeed. That is all that matters. As a young or old teacher your days may get bogged down by meetings, paperwork, high-stakes testing, grading, new initiatives. But it's like anything in life: you have to take the good with the bad. Life is a balance. Those difficulties/annoyances are just a tradeoff for all of the amazing activities and opportunities you have going on in your classroom.
Because, I know you do this. You inspire. You excite. You engage. You find ways to make spelling awe-inspiring. You motivate in writing, by sharing your own. You read them literature and take on character voices and make it impossible not to pay attention. You devise cool ways to learn about math and science and geography...
You do all this because you are a teacher. You became a teacher because you knew that your teaching, your lessons, what you put on the board each morning, would make a difference in children's lives.
Always remember that you are your students' role model. They look up to you, they idolize you. Yes, they think you live under your desk in your classroom. They see you at the grocery store and are immediately shocked, surpirsed, awe struck, you exist outside of that classroom, outside of school. Your students have this reaction because you are their teacher. You are their hero. You are the reason they are beaming every morning when they walk through that door.
Am I saying it's always peaches and roses? No. Nothing in life is. We all have "bad" days. We all get in arguments/disagreements. We all wake up on the "wrong" side of the bed. What I'm saying is that teachers impact and influence the students they teach in profound ways. In ways that shape the rest of their lives.
Teachers are why the world works.
First Grade Teacher