I knew without question that I wanted to be a teacher. I knew it without having to think about it. Without research, without a list of pros and cons, without a thought of an alternative career just in case—this was it. I was 17 and felt like I had my life planned out, by me, not for me. I liked knowing I had a plan.
It’s not surprising. When I look back to when I was a teenager, so much of what I did, thought, knew and believed was based—quite naturally—on what I had experienced. What career do young people witness much more than teaching, going to school every day for ten months of the year, seeing these professionals on the job?
I admired so many of my teachers and what they did, far exceeding the boundaries of the curriculum and minimum expectations. These people who had the patience to spend their lives with young people and share their passion for a subject captivated me completely. They presented new perspectives with which I could view the world. They asked questions that helped me figure out more about myself. Their influence was invaluable and I wanted to do the same.
There is nothing that anyone could have said or anything I could have done to be fully prepared.
It was never about the holidays or the money. Nor was it about the fantasy of working 8:30 to 3:00. I wanted to inspire. And while it sounds contrived to see it written down or for me to say it aloud, that’s what it was. For all the teachers who had confidence in me, who had a positive effect on how I view the world, who looked out for me and knew when I was having a bad day, I wanted to instill confidence, have a positive influence and look out for those kids who were having a rough time of it.
The classroom felt like home to me. This was affirmed with every classroom observation I did in the lead up to my teacher-training year. It was a space full of unlimited potential.
When it finally came around, teacher training was—as anyone will attest to—not easy. Difficult students, challenging teacher tutors, unfamiliar curricula, and lesson planning without a drop of real understanding of how to do so all made for a very steep learning curve. Nonetheless, my determination to be a teacher was unwavering.
I could never have known what to expect when I finally started teaching in a secondary school, which I didn’t actually pursue until a few years after my teacher training. There is nothing that anyone could have said or anything I could have done to be fully prepared. There were things I knew about myself going into it: I’m patient, creative, and willing to put in whatever work necessary to do a good job. I knew these things would be enough to get me started. There was, however, plenty that I didn’t yet know about myself that teaching would help me realise.