This is the story of how I became a teacher despite trying hard to avoid it. There were a couple of reasons why I didn’t want to be a teacher. One reason was that before I worked in a school, I was a babysitter for small children and I knew the amount of energy it took to keep them occupied. Another reason why I shied away from being a teacher is because of how I judged teachers as a student. Reflecting back the best teachers I had were organized and either strict, relatable, or both. Whichever it was, they had easy to remember routines, clear expectations and were consistent – qualities that make a teacher great. The worst teacher I had was this young eclectic woman who thought she was Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds.
She had the wrong demographic and if a bunch of private school kids from the suburbs could make her cry (we had prayer before every class and chapel for goodness sake) how did she survive
life teaching? She was the worse teacher because she wore her heart on her sleeve and that is a weakness in these teacher streets. Never let them see you sweat. She also told me I couldn’t write and instead of giving me tips to improve she told me I didn’t need to be in the honors class. Very encouraging fake Michelle Pfeiffer. Thinking about her and other teachers and remembering myself as a student I wanted to avoid teaching at all costs because I knew the amount of work it took to be the best. This brings me to my last reason I didn’t want to be a teacher. If I can’t be the best at it then why should I do it? I had to go through a few grueling life lessons that taught me that being perfect isn’t everything. I still haven’t grasped the idea, but I just worked through my flaws, hence why I continue to teach and why I write.
In the past whenever I took a test to see which job fit my personality teaching would always be the top one. I figured I would be a teacher in some way, but I really tried to stay away from the classroom. After getting fired from My Eye Dr and realizing retail wasn’t for me I knew I had to find my career path. The day I decided to at least work with children is vivid in my mind. I was sitting on a metro train going who knows where. Maybe to meet with my ambitious friend who started her own company. Maybe to a job interview. I can’t remember, but I know I was headed to D.C. on the blue line. The trains are underground, so while inside the train has lights, when you look out the window all you see is pitch darkness. There is this one spot from Benning Rd Station to Stadium Armory where the train rides up above ground for a couple of minutes and you get a glimpse of light. You can see the old Redskins Stadium, the dingy brown Anacostia river, and Langston Golf Course and Driving Range. There are also trees scattered all over. It
is refreshing to see after being underground. While I was on the train, it stopped at Benning Rd Station and a eager group of dare care children walked on. Watching them was like watching cats being herded. The teachers tried to keep track of the bunch and they waddled excitedly to their seats. The doors closed and the train moved and the kids were giddy with energy. Once we came from underground all I heard was wow, ooh, ahhh. They were so precious. It was a sweet moment that touched my heart. Their fascination is what sparked my desire to teach. I wanted to have those type of ah ha moments with students. I wanted to lead their minds to making new discoveries. Now, I didn’t actually become a teacher until a couple of years after that, but that was the moment I at least decided to work at a school.
I worked as a teacher’s assistant for a year and I still wanted to be in education, but I still thinking think being a classroom teacher was right for me. I moved to Texas, worked a couple of odd jobs, and became a substitute. When I became a subbed one foot was in the door so I gave in and went to get certified. By the next school year, I had my first position at a charter school as a kindergarten teacher. My first year teaching can best be described like a visit to Chuck-E-Cheese. You know how when you step foot in Chuck-E-Cheese kids are everywhere and it’s low-key like a war zone, except instead of weapons and soldiers, there’s pizza and kids running all around. This is how I felt inside daily.
My first year I felt like I was drowning in the grades, students behavior, work expectations, just barely staying afloat. I went into my second year strong, but I got moved to 2nd grade. I felt like a first year teacher all over again and felt the same way my first year teaching in Kuwait. These days I am confident in what I am doing and I don’ stress over everything. I get as much as I can done and move on. I’ve learned that it I work too much, then I get burned out. Getting burnt out leads to procrastination. Procrastination leads to stress. So I’ve learned that it’s better to do things when I have time instead of wasting it. I also discovered that coffee is a vital part of me being a functional adult and I do not know how I was surfing without it.
My story of becoming a teacher is unconventional, but it doesn’t take away how much I care about the students. I held out for so long trying to find the perfect job, where I could have been working as a teacher. The unique part about being a teacher is the impact I have on the students. The best part of teaching is being able to take ideas and catering them to my teacher style and to my students. With each year I fall deeper and deeper in love with it.