When you ask kids in fifth grade what they wanna be when they grow up, their answers usually vary between “police officer”, “firemen”, “pilot” and perhaps the girls will occasionally admitt to “princess”.
When I was in fifth grade, all I wanted to be was a teacher. Preferably one like the one I had in fifth grade, a teacher who will forever be my role model in teaching, connecting with students, and being an awesome human.
I am now in teacher’s training – and still, all I want to be is a teacher. Not become one, be one.
I have been back at school for a whole two days and have somehow managed to break out in tears AT SCHOOL already. I thought after two weeks off it would take much longer for me to feel so helpless, furious, frustrated and minorly stressed, but I guess I thought wrong. Turns out my new mentor (who jumped in for the previous one that got pregnant) has a wholly different idea about what English lessons are supposed to look like…which, you know, is fine, but I didn’t really like being told that in the middle of the English lesson I was teaching. While the class was still in the classroom. Repeatedly. Basically anytime I said “Hey”, my mentor said “Ho” and that’s how my splendid lesson went. Did I mention the first lesson I showed her was a mix of 32 students excited to be back at school, not listening to a word I was saying, while I was desperately trying to get the projector to stop switching itself on and off? Yes, that was a lot of fun, trust me. What a brilliant first impression I must have made.
To cut a long story (well, not that long, but I could say everything I just said ten more times using different adjectives) short, the moment I got back to our teacher’s room, I was yelling and crying simultaneously, which really helped my feeling in control of the situation. NOT.
But I guess I wasn’t in control today. Not one bit. And I wasn’t even asked to surrender, it was like somebody else took control over my life and decided which hoops I’d get to jump/fall/stumble/yank myself through today. Honestly, that’s what my life has been feeling like ever since I started teacher’s training.
It’s obviously not like I didn’t expect it to be hard, to be tough – I mean, any teacher I’ve ever spoken to says that the two years of teacher’s training were the most horrible of their entire career if not life. Most add that the first year, in particular, really took them past their personal maximum stress levels and back again.
I, being me, thought they were all joking. Well, no, actually I thought they were all weak, whiny, trying to scare me off, “not as good as me”. I get cocky much too often, even if I don’t share it. I believe that if I plan enough, work enough, control enough, nothing in life can take control over me.
But it doesn’t work, and it seems that teacher’s training is training me how to deny having my own needs and wishes, having a mind of my own, having an opinion of my own. Not that I think I haven’t learned anything of substance the past (almost) year – I have undeniably learned more and have gotten trained better than in all my years of studying at university or school, for that matter. I feel fully equipped for what’s to come…but perhaps that’s the problem. I feel done. I feel ready. I feel like there’s no need for somebody else to be in control of me right now, I feel like all I need is to break free. Maybe that’s part of the game, maybe that’s what my mentors want to achieve so that we learn how to be on our own next year. But that part of me that’s a huge people pleaser and perfectionist is in such a conflict with the part of me that is cocky and feels ready for it all. It’s all bundled up inside me and I feel like it’s so much, too much to take.
How to become a teacher – I think I don’t know how to become one. I think you are a teacher, or you aren’t. There’s no way I would endure all of this, put all my energy, my effort, my emotions and my life into this if I weren’t sure that I, in fact, already am a teacher. I choose to be one, despite it all. I choose to get up every morning and face the hoops, face the testing experience of being told what to do daily, face the horrific realization that I am not even a little bit in control of what I’m doing right now…because all those things I just listed are not about being a teacher.
They are not about what I am.
They are not about who I am.
I am a teacher. I teach every day. I love teaching. I love every single second of it, even the frustration I feel when my students refuse to listen, the anger I feel when I spend hours preparing what I consider interesting and exciting topics and realize they have interesting and exciting topics of their own. I love the rush of standing in front of kids and, even if it doesn’t always happen, feeling their sudden realization that what you’re doing up there is not at all about you, it’s all about them. I love thinking up ways to gain access to their way of thinking, to their lives, to their hopes and dreams – as corny as that sound. I am a teacher, and I love it.
And I’ll be damned if that’s taken away from me in teacher’s training.