This is Why: The Teacher Talk

There are kids in this world who don’t know how to read. If you can’t read, chances are you can’t write. Can you imagine life without reading? Think about this. If you can’t write your name, how many business deals can you be involved in? How much fine print can you read before you sign? Billboards become flashy colours with bright scrawl, and you become a foreigner in your own land. Ignorance isolates. Imagine asking directions and not knowing which streetsign is which. Imagine holding a book and not knowing if it was upside down or not. No bedtime stories. No library trips. No Peter Pan or Winnie-the-Pooh, Agatha Christie or newspapers. Imagine growing up like this, sending your own children to school and asking them to read aloud a letter addressed to yourself.

Imagine that.

To read means to enable. It means dignity, empowerment, and wonder, and this is why I want to teach. There are people in this world who don’t know how to read, and I have a problem with that.

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It was about a week after my grade 12 year had come to an end. I was squatting on the ground pushing the toddler on the swing. His eight year old brother was hanging out too, and we were chatting about the differences between high school and elementary. While I talked about the different courses, he interrupted me – “Anna…what’s physics?”.

Physics? How do I explain physics to an eight year old? I was stuck – but then it came to me: in it’s basic form, physics is simply the science of the way things move. So that’s what I told him. I showed him the rhythm of the swing and the relationship between how hard I pushed and the height and speed of the swing and the distance the ropes moved. We talked about gravity. I told him that he could look at how heavy his hockey puck was, how hard he hit a slapshot and few other things and then he could calculate things like the exact direction and speed of the puck. It was fun. But the even better part was when he looked up at me and said “That’s cool! I wanna take physics when I get older!”

I can show you the four way stop I was at driving home that day when I decided I was going to be a teacher. I realized it’s just what I do. I can’t help it – I like to tell people stuff! I like explaining, I like sharing things that others may not have thought about, I think the challenge of figuring out how to make it relevant to their world is fun, and I like it when we succeed. This is why I want to teach. E’s face was glowing as we talked about hockey and physics. It blows my mind when I think about it. I didn’t even take physics in high school.

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In this country, a child is typically enrolled in school for thirteen years. The internet tells me that the average kid spends thirty hours a week in school. Throw in some volleyball practice, sleep time and a working parent, and the numbers add up fast to say that it is not uncommon for students to spend more time around teachers than their own parents. What does that say about the potential influence of our educators?

If you start polling those around you for who the top influential people in their lives have been most will list at least one teacher or coach. I know I would. The guidance and encouragement I have personally had from previous teachers has been incredible. However, this projected influence can be either a positive or negative experience. It doesn’t matter how many years it has been since you’ve sat in a classroom, you know what I’m talking about! We’ve all encountered someone who shouldn’t be instructing. We have all had that class that turned us off math, poetry, biology, French, or who-knows-what because of a conflict with the instructor or teaching methods that didn’t work for us. It happens. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a personality conflict while in other cases it might be a drastically needed career change. I am aware of this. Sometimes I wonder if I can handle living up to so many expectations (my own included) of those in this profession, but I always come back to one thing:

I can only start with me. It’s not up to me to judge. It’s not up to me to make others kind and compassionate. I cannot dictate the best way for someone else to run their life (or classroom). There will always be teachers needed to fill the classrooms. Somebody will fill those shoes. I can stand and watch others do it or I can jump in myself. I can choose what kind of teacher I will be. I can choose to be kind and compassionate. I can choose to listen. I can choose to be patient. I can challenge kids. I can learn about learning disabilities and I can do the very best job that I can. I can step out on a limb and try things differently. I can work hard, and I can love kids. This is why I want to teach. Because I can change lives.

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“You might be a missionary one day.” My mom’s words followed up a lot of scenarios growing up. Mostly it was in reference to things that would be good for me.

“Better eat that, you might have to eat weird food in a different country one day.

“Better work on your French, Anna. You might be a missionary one day.” 

“Actually, soccer is the best sport to learn because all you need is a ball and some rocks to mark the goalposts. It’s a global sport. Better try it. You might be a missionary some day.”

She’s right. It’s been good for me. I’ve learned a lot of things that I can take with me anywhere in the world, and one of them is teaching! I could teach in PG or Uganda. I could teach the children of the elite or abandoned street children. I could teach young mothers or children with autism. There are a lot of options. I like that. And that’s a lovely bonus to the reasons why I want to teach.

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I am a lot of things. I am an INTJ (more on that one day), a daughter, a friend, a camp kid. I am curious, systematic, and flexible. I have held a unique life that astounds me when I dwell on it, and have had a lot invested in me by those in my communities. I am responsible, patient, imaginative and fun (I think!). I have a lot of attributes that just make sense to have in a classroom. I have talents and skills and experiences that have started to mold me into a natural teacher, and this is why I’m going to try this. This is why I want to teach. My teachers have told me to teach. Others have said it’s my gifting. One day I walked through the playground and this grubby little girl called out to me out of nowhere “Are you going to be a teacher?”. I told her maybe. It was a little bit weird; I’d seen her but never talked to her before. “Do not neglect your gift”, Paul said to Timothy. It is my genuine belief that this is the path that I’m supposed to start on. I have not forgotten; it’s never far from my heart.

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s blurry.
I love this guy.

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As I take another year before taking more solid steps towards a career, I wanted to share this with you all. Nobody ever knows the complete picture of what someone else is going through or what their motivations are, and it can be easy to assume things about everyone else. As many of my peers are taking similar ventures (whether with YWAM, Capernwray, or even a simple year to work) sometimes I get a nagging feeling that it might look like I’m doing it because everyone else is – I don’t want to be left out – I simply want to travel – that I’m scared of university – that I don’t want to settle down and grow up – that…that…that…

Then I tell myself that I am overly sensitive to what people think of everyone else’s lives, and that I don’t actually know what they are thinking about mine so I should just drop it. That is what I conclude, and I don’t let it worry me. I can only take care of myself, and people can think whatever they think. Also, I personally have felt an incredible amount of support for doing TREK and throughout my life in general! Please don’t think I am discouraged or hurt or that I really do think you all think I don’t have a good enough life plan, because that would be a lie. I just wanted to tell you that I have actually discovered something that perhaps I just might actually happen to be passionate about. And that is why, I want to teach.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Marcia says:

    The world needs more caring and engaged teachers. Pursue your journey and let your fire burn strong enough to consume every student you encounter with that same passion to learn.

    1. Anna says:

      Just read your post “Hidden Treasures” and absolutely loved it. I want to print it out and keep it on my wall! Filled with truth – thank-you.

  2. Auntie Beth says:

    Thanks for those thoughts Anna.

    As I sit here preparing lessons for the year ahead it is wonderful to have a reminder about why I teach – it isn’t about meeting objectives set out by the MOE – it is about touching lives!

  3. Shawn Bird says:

    I’m an ENTJ. We have a lot in common! There are so many frustrations around being a teacher, but very few of them are about kids. I love my job, and when I’ve been chatting with someone and they ask, “What is your job?” and I tell them I’m a high school teacher, I like it when they nod and say, “Good. I wish I could be in your class room.” I don’t know if all my students feel like that, but I enjoy being with them! Every adventure in your life becomes a fuel to make you a better teacher. How many teachers have lived in wilderness situations like you have? panned for gold? travelled desserts? screwed a plane back together? Take the time to be ready when the commitment arrives. If I were to guess a grade level, I’d say you’re a future grade 3 or 4 teacher who will be adored and transform lives…

    1. Anna says:

      We DO have a lot in common! I’m incredibly borderline on my E and I – many mistake me for an extravert but I maintain that those are all skills that have been learned. I am and always have been an INTJ at heart.

      Love your comments Shawn! Keep ’em coming!

  4. You my friend teach me things on a regular basis. It’s usually a life lesson, either by your actions or your words. I will forever be grateful for the time spent with you. You make the world a better place, you always have.

    1. Anna says:

      And you have always been a steady supporter! Thanks for all the cheerleading you’ve done over the years. I’m glad to be a blessing!

  5. Eva Bedard says:

    I agree Anna – you would be an amazing teacher – too bad I couldn’t be in your class, because I am sure you would be one of my teachers I would remember and tell my kids about – a teacher who made an impact on my life! You are a teacher already Anna, you teach by the way you live and love life, I am learning and being challenged just by reading your blog!!! God bless you Anna, and continue to use you for his honour and glory!

  6. Dan Estabrook says:

    Anna your communication skills are exceptional. YOU NEED TO TEACH! Dan Estabrook

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