I’m an education major, and I keep hearing this phrase: Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.
I keep hearing horror stories of fellow educators who were asked why they settled on this, how there has to be something else.
It’s like people don’t see teaching as one of the most beautiful and rewarding occupations available. And maybe it isn’t glamorous; maybe I’m not a rocket scientist or a missionary or a film maker. Maybe I’m not going for something that’ll make me a millionaire or win me a Nobel Peace prize.
But teachers have so much influence over the lives of their students, and I want that. Not in a creepy “I’m going to brainwash them” sort of way, but I want to be a person they can trust, who will encourage them to pursue their dreams, who will build them up and love them when maybe nobody else does.
I want to share knowledge in ways they’ll understand, to help them as they work towards reaching their full potential. And, yeah, I won’t get to see the final outcome. I’ll be a first grade teacher, for crying out loud, and I’m only going to know these kids for a year at a time.
But that year can make a difference.
I remember my first grade teacher. I don’t remember a lot of vivid details (Sorry, Mrs. Suzanne — it’s been a few years), but I remember colors and laughter and a lot of fun. Most importantly, though, I remember that lady who made the crazy decision to watch thirty kids at one time being someone who cared for all of her students, who put time and energy into all of us, who let us have fun while running a fairly structured classroom.
I’m not delusional. I know there are going to be awful days; I’m going to want to throttle some of them. They’re going to drive me crazy and I’m going to want to quit. I’m going to hate every parent-teacher conference, all of the meetings, the paperwork, the government involvement — thinking about it now is almost enough to make me run to my advisor, begging to switch majors.
But I keep thinking about my piano students, about the kids I’ve babysat and tutored, the kids from the many years of VBS and childrens church.
I think about the messy hands and the dirty faces and the uncontrollable laughter when something is really, really funny and scraped knees and the times when they’re so sweet to you and the tears and the ridiculous things they say — and I know that this is what I’m supposed to do.
I don’t know what made me start ranting like this. I think I’ve been down on myself for it; I think that I keep hearing all of these people with their engineering and communications and English majors talking about their options, what they plan on doing with their degrees, and I start to feel small. I start to shrink, because I really only have one option. I can’t get this degree and then lay out my detailed ten-year plan about the six different careers I can develop from this one degree.
But during my Jesus-time today, it hit me. This is it. Maybe I won’t do this forever; I do have a coffee shop to open someday. I have novels to write. I want to get married and have my own kids. I want to travel.