I was remembering today a conversation I had with a teacher back when I was in high school. I was discussing what I thought I might want to do after high school and I mentioned that teaching was something I had been considering. This teacher looked at my grades and stated that he thought I might get bored teaching because I wouldn’t find it stimulating enough. Now I do see where he was coming from in terms of academics – I was one of those annoying students who got high A’s without trying all that hard. But if I had known then what I know now I would stop that conversation and say to him that I really can’t think of anything that would challenge my whole self more than teaching.
Teaching challenges me mentally… as I spend countless hours every day and week trying to learn different concepts in multiple ways, trying to understand new ways of teaching material. Also, during the school day my brain works harder than it ever has before trying to be careful of the language I use, and trying to catch as many “teachable moments” as I can. On a bigger scale, I am challenged mentally every time I think about the education system and how much I want to change about it – I often dream of the little and big changes I want to make and how I can start to make those, even in small ways, right now.
Teaching challenges me emotionally… because every time a student enters a classroom I’m teaching in, I am trying to find a way to connect with him or her. Sometimes this connection is easy and sometimes it is so hard. Sometimes it takes everything I have to not take the comments or attitudes personally. And then there are the students who I want to protect from the horrible hand they’ve been dealt in life – or at the very least help them to build resiliency. Teaching challenges me emotionally more than anything else I’ve done. I come home at the end of the day emotionally exhausted, having worn the weight of so many problems and celebrated so many joys throughout the day.
Teaching challenges me physically… when I am trying to keep up with my students and spending time with them. Whether that means being on my feet for 6 hours straight or coming into work even though that cold I have is begging me to stay in bed. It may mean working out in the middle school gym during our PE time or playing tag with the elementary kids during a free block outside. I am also always trying to be a role model for healthy living for my students and keeping up with a fitness routine that demonstrates life long health (it is obviously for myself first but I do push myself harder to be a role model).
Teaching is the most challenging thing I have ever done, it is also the most rewarding. I am so thankful that I did not listen to the advice of my high school teacher and am able to be surrounded by students and teachers and all of the other amazing people in education. The process to become a teacher has become a huge part of who I am in every aspect of my life. I look forward to the challenges that teaching will bring me tomorrow and the challenges that I will face many years into my teaching career down the road – because with those challenges comes the even bigger reward and I am so happy to be in such a fulfilling career.