Back on Track

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.

—Jacques Barzun

Yesterday I assisted a first grade teacher in my old elementary school. I was getting some field work experience, as well as sticking my foot through some doors. I’ll be there for the remainder of the week, listening and learning about the wonderful world of teaching. I don’t mean that sarcastically, It really was wonderful.

This past semester, however, was not wonderful in regards to my future teaching career. I almost lost my love for the art. Sometimes I feel like college discourages a person from what their aiming towards. The amount of work we receive that doesn’t relate to our field can turn a person away from their goals. I felt like I was drowning in statistics. I hated it, and I know I will never need it to teach first graders. Genetically modified first graders, maybe.

Aside from this, the way some teacher’s talk about the field of education turns me off. They talk about the “long hours you put in for pay that doesn’t put out.” Afterwards, your professors scare you. They say you need connections to get a job before mentioning low employment rates. No one talks about the children, about how rewarding it will be in the end.

That’s it. I wasn’t excited about teaching. The spark had simmered out.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do after that. Time suddenly slowed, everything I was working for seemed pointless. Day’s were getting longer and less bearable. My friends, who love their majors, began to irritate me. I just wanted to throw it all away and become an artist or a writer. Passions that I would enjoy, but have little success in.

Yesterday and today I was in a classroom. I was there amongst twenty-one first graders in my old elementary school, standing in front of a chalk board. I am working with an outstanding teacher and the most lovable six year olds. Everything suddenly fell back into place. This is what I want to do, and I’ll do it. I would sit through ten more years of mathematical torture to bear that feeling again.

I feel relieved and back on track. I’m heading back to school this semester with a fresh face and a readiness to learn. I want to become the best teacher I can, one that will inspire and engage her students.

It maybe as bad as everyone says, but I’m willing to take that chance. First graders of America, I’m coming for you.

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16 thoughts on “Back on Track

  1. I’m going to tell you this as a teacher of 13 years as well as a fellow hopeful writer: the people you listen to are not wrong. You will work long hours for less pay than you deserve. That statistics class is going to be necessary because policy for the past 20 years has made education all about the data. It can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening. However, once in a blue moon (more often for you if you become a 1st grade teacher. I teach 8th grade), you will receive a note or email or be contacted by someone that you once taught. They will tell you that there were a bunch of little things that you did that has made a difference for them. You will remember the little things that they did that made a difference to you. In that moment, you will remember why you teach. Teaching isn’t for everyone. You have to be the type of person that can feel like you are fighting an uphill battle for a long time and holding out for that one reminder of your inspiration. Those moments will come in small ways every day and in larger ways like I’ve mentioned. If you are the type of person that can push yourself until you reach those moments, and it sounds like you are, then you will be an asset to the profession. We look forward to having you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in my senior year of engineering and I myself found myself hating life by sophomore year. My passion for math and science was completely destroyed by the tedious work that I had to complete merely for the sake of a grade. I’m glad someone else has felt the same! Now that I’m about the graduate, I feel more lost and confused than my first day of college. I wish you well in teaching!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our parents and our schoolteachers were, and are, our heroes. The teachers, and their collective organizations, are among the few barriers remaining to the surging modern tides of mercenary self-interest and robot boredom. It’s difficult for schoolteachers to be so important, to society’s conscience and cerebrum, for the monetary reward offered them. The teachers’ collective organizations must continue their struggle, alongside other public servants, for an equitable wage and greater societal expenditure on education and children. Your activism cannot flag, we depend upon you too much!

    It’s a lot to ask of our schoolteachers. We have always asked a great deal of them. Yet everyone famously believes they could do better by their own children than the schoolteacher they have! Few believe this about policemen or firefighters, “I could put out that fire in my house better than that guy in the firetruck…” Why is, perennially, the classroom society’s fair game? Because it is so important. Yes, we dare to voice it, schoolteachers are as vital to our lives, and to their meaning, as firefighters!

    Oh, the tribulations of schoolteachers are legion, but so are the joys. If you are fortunate enough (yes, we say FORTUNATE) to run your own classroom–at the same school, for a few years–no other career can compare. It becomes your life in a way that few professions can match, and none can excel. As your confidence and expertise grows, you can positively affect the children still more, even as your charges grow apace, into third-graders and sixth-graders. A veteran teacher, like a skilled pediatrician, comes to know where our children hurt, and how to make it a little better. Parents–and occasionally even school boards, administrators and social scientists–might seem to forget. But most of us treasure, in heart as well as mind, the gifts our stern and dear schoolteachers have given us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not an educator, I’m a mother of four. It was people like you who had a passion for the children and their education who made all the difference in the world when it came to my children’s desire to learn. Please know that. You will wind up making a difference. You will touch lives.

    My oldest who is now 30, married, with two children of his own, and who served in Afghanistan as an officer, is still in touch with his first grade teacher when he goes home. She was, and remains, an amazing women who not only touched his life, but mine as well.

    Please continue to follow your passion, keep your eye on the ball, and do what you love. Your hard work and dedication could not be focused on anything more precious… the children of our society.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sometimes, college can just suck the life out of the topic you’re passionate about. If it makes any difference, my dad was a high school teacher for 30 years, and he told me that what you’re taught in the classroom doesn’t really help you when you’re teaching. What helps you is your student teaching and just learning on the job. On a side note, don’t give up your dream of being a writer. There’s no reason why you can’t do both. 🙂 Oh, and your genetically-modified first graders line made me laugh. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Brooks (above) has it correct. You will be amazed how much you will learn once out of school and into your career. And remember you are in college for an EDUCATION not to learn a trade. Believe it or not some of the art history and stuffy literature I was exposed to in my humanities electives helped in my later life. Who’d a thunk it?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a university professor and a mother, kudos to all the teachers in our schools. Given all the demands and lack of resources, teachers are amazing role models for resilience. I am so glad that you are reconnecting with your passion. Also, remember you are very young and you may find different ways of channelizing your passion and making a career out of it. Physics girl does such a fantastic job of that.

    http://www.physicsgirl.org/about/

    Regardless of age and stage of life, almost everyone has to create the space for reflection to deepen your life experience and take stock of where you are and what you want to.

    Good luck and hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good to see you shook the cynics off. There are lots of negatives in the world of teaching, most are educators who don’t like teaching or kids. So you have spent time with a teacher who loves teaching and a class of great kids and that is most important. Speaking from experience Angela Eve, no-one can teach you to become a teacher, especially university teachers. You become a teacher from experience, making mistakes and hanging out and sharing with good teachers. You also become a good teacher by mutually respecting your students ( expect from them what you give them). No-one is perfect and because teaching is such a physically and emotionally demanding profession you will make mistakes, don’t take them to heart share them with positive colleagues. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. One of the best things one of my college professors once told me about teaching (and about life) is that, “Teaching is learning twice.” Think about that as you learn your craft and develop a thicker skin (respectively) in the days ahead. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. vhayle says:

    Hi Angela. I have been teaching (high school, so 12-17 year olds) for 40+ years in a range of contexts. I do agree with all those people who talk about ling hours and poor pay, difficulty getting permanent work and, increasing levels of paperwork and other activities that have little to do with teaching. At the same time, I couldn’t agree more with you: The hours I actually spend in the classroom are satisfying, rewarding in a way that little else is, with that somewhat clichéd but very real feeling of ‘making a difference’ and, most important if all they are enormous fun! It is without doubt the kids that keep me going back every day. Stick at it and enjoy 😊 Go you!

    Liked by 1 person

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