Why I Became a Teacher?
I have one of the most interesting jobs ever. I am a high school teacher. Many people cannot believe I love being around teenagers. I have the utmost respect for elementary teachers because I do not enjoy the younger children as much. They just do not understand me. I am sarcastic and love to joke around. High school kids get it.
Every year my kids are enlightened that I am a teacher who “used” to be young and who “has a life” outside of school. You know what I mean. You usually never get to see your teachers except at school. I remember seeing a teacher or two at the grocery store and feeling it wasn’t natural that they were out of the classroom and the school building. Silly, I know, but that is how kids think, even the older ones.
Inevitably, my kids want me to tell them about my college days. They think of wild parties and skipping class, and they just can’t imagine me in that role. Well, they are right. I wasn’t part of that crowd. They are surprised to hear my story.
The Beginning of My Journey - Marriage
First, I tell them I did everything backwards. They relate to this scenario because most kids have an adult telling them they are doing things wrong and in the wrong order. Well, I was that kid, too. I was in high school for the social aspect and cared nothing about my classes. I made decent grades, but I never tried. They are shocked because they think all teachers were always “nerds.”
I go on to tell them that the first thing I did after high school was get married at the age of 18. I was raised to believe girls became wives and mothers. My mother was 44 years older than me and old fashion. She got married at 15 – not with her parents’ approval. I thought that was what I should do, too. My aunts and uncles were completely against it and felt I should go to college. I was not ready for college. I was too immature and stupid for getting married, but no one could tell me that.
I was completely against college. No aspirations at all in that direction. My students are completely taken aback to this information because I am always pushing them to discipline themselves in order to survive in college and the workplace. I tell them that I was one of those kids who would have really screwed up a college career by partying and skipping class. “You have got to be kidding!” is their response. In their minds, teachers don’t and never were supposed to have a life. It is so funny. I go on to tell them I am glad I got married though I do not recommend it at that young age because it is hard. You have to grow up fast when you live with another person who does not do the same things in the same way your family does. At that age, many of us think everyone thinks the same way we do. There were many fights and many walk outs those first few years. It was hard, hard, hard.
Then Comes Baby
Second, we had our son. When I tell them this part, I purposely leave out how long we were married before we had our son. I can see them mentally counting in their heads and wondering if I “had” to get married. It seems to boggle their mind that “Ms. Priss” might have gotten pregnant before being married. Finally, I let it drop that we had been married for two years before we had him. Again, it was hard. Both of us were too young to be dealing with a baby. Juniors and seniors really need to hear this. Some of them are just looking for someone to love. I tell them that the extra responsibility of being married and having a baby is difficult because you have two other people with much higher expectations than even your parents have for you. There were lots of fights, but our son created a responsibility and a mutual love that kept us together. This is not always the case, though.
I Had to Work
Third, I realized I had to work, so I worked in a flower shop, retail, and a grocery store. I could not stand working with cranky customers. So, finally, I decided I want something better for my son and family. I applied for college. My husband was in the military and was working on a business management degree, so we both did things backwards. I had no clue what I wanted to do. Looking at the class, I usually see a few heads shaking up and down in understanding. I reassure them that I had been out of high school for four years, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be.
I Wanted More
When I went to my college orientation, I followed the group of elementary teacher majors. I decided that was what I wanted to be. So, college started and I was thrown into a world that I was not prepared for because I blew off high school. I would be sitting in class and would hear a word like, “psychoanalysis.” In the far reaches of my mind I could remember that word from, from, from… somewhere. I couldn’t remember what it was or what context it was used in. Of course, my mind was working and telling me, “If you had paid attention in high school, you would know this and it would be easier.” No truer words.
They want to know what kind of student I was in college. I tell them I was a wonderful student in college because there was more riding on it than what I wanted. I had a family at home. I had to keep a certain grade point average to keep my loans, scholarships, and grants. I also realized that I loved studying, learning, and researching. Some of them can’t imagine.
I tell them that you have to feel responsible for your own education, which is why I do not believe parents should pay for their kids’ college (another hub). They have to find something that will anchor them to their education so they can claim ownership. We do not seem to appreciate what we have, especially when we are young, if we do not have to work for it or pay for it in some way.
How I Found My Niche
So, what happened after college? Well, I had to do my student teaching in first grade and in junior high. The first grade segment wore me out. “Teacher, teacher, teacher???” Their little voices drove me crazy – bless their sweet little hearts. We take for granted the smallest things – tying shoes, 2+2=4, being potty trained, etc. I went home exhausted every night and wondered if I had made a mistake. Then my second round of student teaching was in junior high, and I had so much fun planning the lessons and being with the students. Fortunately, I did a good enough job that the principal recommended me for a high school position.
The high school principal told me I had two years on a temporary certificate to get my high school certification. So, back to school I went. I didn’t stop until I got my masters. Now, nearly 20 years later, I still love the job and the kids.
Why Share This Story with Students?
You might wonder why I would share this story with my students. I want them to know I am human, and I had all the same fears and questions they have about life. I made mistakes, but I learned how to turn them into something good. There was no wallowing in my own complaints or excuses. I had to be responsible. I tell them the earlier they understand that there is a reason for their education the easier it will be for them to apply it to life, whether it is in college or in the workplace. I go back so I can relate to them and they can relate to me.
More Teaching Hubs by SHOLLAND10
- 10 Strategies for Teachers to Deal with a Disruptive Class
If you are a teacher, you have had to deal with a disruptive class. Here are tips for dealing with that disruptive class in order to calm the class and save your sanity.
- Teachers of Teens Need to Be Careful When Giving Permission
Teachers working with teenagers need to be aware of how teens can manipulate words. Teachers must be aware of the philosophy of arguing when working with teens. The teacher in the article tells a humorous story of when her students twisted her words.
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Need a fun vocabulary game to play with your classes? Try Shabooinary! It's a great game to learn and practice vocabulary words of all levels along with ESL vocabulary. Will you Shaboo?
- Doing the Best I Can to Be a Great Teacher- How You Can Do It Too
I love teaching and I love my students. Building a relationship with them is the single most important thing you can do to help them learn.
- Top Reason (Not Ten) I Like Being A Teacher....and The Struggles That Go Along with Teaching And Why
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© 2011 Susan Holland