Growing up, I always admired the patience and dedication of my teachers.
As a kindergartener, I admit that I could have been a troublemaker once in a while. This was because I did not know how to speak, read or write English very well. Furthermore, being an only child accustomed me to a certain level of freedom that made it difficult to follow rules once I finally started school.
They put me in a class with students who were all native English speakers. As a service, I had an ESL teacher who would spend time teaching me English. I was also fortunate enough to have a neighbor who was a high school teacher. She committed time to teaching me English afterschool, even though she had to grade school work and take care of her sons. My mother was also persistent, demanding my best in everything I did even if it was hard for me. Even though my mother did not know English herself, she made sure that I was able to at least read and write fluent Spanish. If it were not for these people who early on pushed me to do my best, I believe that I would not have the type of work ethic I have today. Thanks to these teachers in my life, I was able to make enough progress that, by the time I began first grade, I was at the same level as the other students in my class.
This dedication, passion and, most importantly, patience that my teachers shared with me paid off. Eventually, I came to realize that teaching can radically alter the courses of lives in ways that students might not immediately appreciate.
I first decided that I wanted to become a teacher when I was still in elementary school. The thought of being able to teach something, even the simple stuff, to another person who needed help was appealing. Teaching to me was fun. It got to the point where I would torture my brothers by forcing them to play student to my teacher, which always ended with them quitting school. Even though this was just a game, I loved the feeling of sharing what was in my brain with others.
When I entered middle school, I began to doubt whether I should become a teacher. It was there that I learned that teaching older students might be a challenge. How would I be able to have control of so many students in a single classroom? If I could not control them, how would I be able to teach them the material they needed to learn. My parents asked me if I thought that I was up to the challenge of educating kids who do not behave, do not care what the teacher says and have no concern for what the teacher knows about a particular subject. Teaching apparently was not the innocent game I made my younger brothers play. I reached a point where I doubted whether teaching was for me. Maybe there was a better occupation out there suited to grant me peace of mind.
My teachers in high school restored my confidence that education was my field. It was a business high school since, upon applying, I thought that I would make a good entrepreneur. However, during my senior year, I was given the opportunity to be a teacher-assistant in a freshman seminar class. The teacher let me teach the class at certain points along the way. I had an entire marking period to myself. The students were not angels. In fact, they possessed many of the qualities I had seen in my middle school classmates who had initially turned me off to teaching.
Instead of turning me off to teaching, however, these freshmen restored my faith in the fun of education. They made me realize that there is never a perfect class of students. For that matter, I was not the perfect teacher. This is the beauty of educating. There is no single way to teach, reach or interact with students. Everyone is different. Everyone needs to be treated differently, meaning the teacher needs to find the proper entry point for each student so they can access the knowledge that needs to be developed. It is a challenge that stretches one’s social skills and patience. It is also one of the best ways to learn about the human race, including yourself.
What could be more fun than that?