I know this is a long post.. but it means a lot to me. I wrote this paper as a way to vent during my student teaching semester and decided to put it my teaching portfolio.
Hope you all enjoy!
“Are You Sure You Want to be a Teacher?”
It sort of hit me one day that I wanted to go into teaching and since then I have noticed the mixed opinions on the profession. I’ve gotten, “you’ll be a great teacher,” “that seems like the perfect job for you,” and “good luck finding a job!” Of course I find the latter to be a bit annoying, however nothing gets under my skin more than the people that reply with, “are you sure you want to be a teacher?” This question has been asked in a number of contexts. Sometimes, it was asked by non-teachers in regards to the money and the politics. Other times, it was asked by other teachers in reference to the every day of being a teacher, such as after a child puked in a urinal or while dealing with a petty fight.
One day during my methods, I had a tough time keeping the students quiet in the hall. It was their teacher’s, my mentor teacher’s, birthday and they were supposed to quietly sign the birthday card and wait patiently in line. As I struggled, a first grade teacher also dealing with her rowdy class half jokingly asked, “Does this really make you want to be a teacher?” Though I was annoyed by my inability to calm my unruly class, I was a lot more annoyed by her question.
They are children. Children get loud. Their cares from day to day are small and irrelevant in the big scheme of things, which can sometimes be a bother. But that is the thing. These things are small and irrelevant and can often be fixed with a word, a hug, or a band aide. I would love to be able to save my students from simple problems forever. That’s the beautiful thing about teaching elementary aged students. At least most of their problems are simple. I will tie shoes, wipe noses, talk through petty fights and deal with tattling and loud students all day. None of that deters me from wanting to be a teacher.
What makes me not want to be a teacher is seeing the little boy eating lunch in the cafeteria on Friday and knowing he more than likely won't be able to eat another meal again until Monday morning at school. It’s the little boy whom is desperate for hugs and is acting out for extra attention because he is neglected at home. It’s the little girl whose academics are failing simply because her mom doesn’t feel like getting out of bed and taking her to school. It’s the little girl without a coat. The little boy who, for a writing assignment, chose to write a letter to his father that says, “I miss you daddy. When are you coming home?” His father is in jail.
I don’t want to be a teacher after helplessly watching a little girl wait for a bus at the end of every day that is taking her to a place full of suffering and darkness. It’s knowing that the place that she should be able to feel safe and call home is a place where she endures more pain than any child ever should. It’s knowing that instead of going home to parents that love her and care about her more than anyone, she goes home to monsters that abuse her in ways you can't fathom, and there is nothing that you can do. Children being children doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are the children whose innocence is being taken for granted.
I want to be a teacher for so many reasons. I want to help my students excel in academics and I want to teach them good character. I want to teach them little lessons and life skills that they will remember long after their time with me. I want to be the teacher that encourages them to love to learn. I want to help every student reach his or her highest potential. I want to be the person cheering them on when no one else is there, and I want to be the extra cheerleader on the sidelines for the students who are blessed with supportive guardians. I want to touch lives. I want to be there and to save little children from their little problems. It’s a hard realization that sometimes their problems aren’t so little and try as you might you aren’t always able to rescue them from the cruelties of this world. It’s the times when you know that even though you are doing everything you can possibly do to help and it still isn’t enough… that breaks you.
These times also make me realize how important my job really is. It’s not about the money, or the benefits, or the vacations. Being given the opportunity to be the one person that made that hurting little girl smile is worth more than a paycheck. Each student and every moment spent with them is the most wonderful blessing. There is no way that you could ever put a price on that. Being there to wipe away tears, to give hugs to the precious little ones when they need it most, to feed them, to care about them, to make them feel special is much more rewarding than having the summers off and the weekends free. These times make me realize that sometimes, you are much more than their teacher. Those little children really count on you, because you are all they have.
So in answer to all of you wondering, “are you sure you really want to be a teacher?” Yes. I am absolutely, positively, one hundred and ten percent sure that I really want to be a teacher. I know that one sticker, one smile, and one hug, truly can make a difference. I can make a difference. I know that I may not change the world… but by becoming a teacher, I have been given the biggest privilege to bring light to a child’s world… and that is enough for me.