Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. – Confucius
Growing up, all my friends wanted to be teachers. I wanted to be anything but. I wanted to be a psychologist, a veterinarian, the President. Anything but a teacher. I baby-sat in high school, and was not a fan. Little kids were just not my thing!
I went to college for Psychology, and had to take a Statistics course. I had taken 4 years of math in high school, of course. I liked it, but I wasnt in love with it. Statistics changed that though. I just got it. I loved that class. LOVED IT. I didnt put 2 and 2 together for a couple more years though.
After college, I floated around for a couple of years. Worked in a bike shop, a triathlon shop, for a race director putting on triathlons. Nothing I was making a career out of. I decided to take the Massachusetts Teachers Test on a whim and substitute teach for a while. And at that time I hit a crossroads. An up and coming politican (who is now a senator) and triathlete, offered me a job. At the same time, a good friend knew I was taking the MTEL and said he knew of a teaching job. I had to make my choice. The closest I had come to teaching was substituting at my old high school for 4 days. But I went for it.
I went in for an interview at a very urban school. The assistant principal looked at me, and I could tell he wanted to laugh. I answered him honestly, and for some reason (thanks to my good references!) he hired me. I could see in his eyes he didnt think I would last a week. I had no idea what I was getting into. Everytime I told someone where I was working, they would tell me “Theyre going to eat you alive”. Apparently, the only reference they had to inner city schools was Dangerous Minds. I went in with an open mind, figuring whatever happened would happen. I was 23. I had never written a lesson plan, assigned homework….heck, I had never taught someone how to solve an equation.
I was teaching Algebra 1 to the students, learning how to teach as I went along. It was trial by fire. I had an awesome mentor, and an even awesomer (I know its not a word, but I am a math teacher not an english teacher!) math coach. He would come into my classroom, watch what I was doing, and give me real-time feedback. Or meet with me afterwards and talk about what to change/what was good/where I was going to next. He would walk around and help the kids too. He’s the reason I am still teaching! He taught me to teach. Day by day went by, and I fell in love with it. I loved those kids.
Yes, crazy things would happen. I was teaching deep in the city. The first fight that happened in my classroom, I almost cried. The first time a weapon fell out of a pocket, I was speechless. As time went by, you take it in stride. Some of these kids had intense, tough, demoralizing home lives. But they are no different then the kids I teach now–teenagers are teenagers! These students made me love my job. They tried hard, they were funny, and they made me love teaching. Its where I got my first taste of “making a difference”. That thing teachers always talk about, what makes them come back year after year.
We made it through that year, and at the end, I unfortunately got laid off. Those kids I taught as Freshman are graduating this year. I still talk to some of them (they may even be reading this!). And I will definitely be at their graduation. I hope those kids will remember me, but really…its my life they changed! After that year, I knew thats what I wanted to do with my life.
I eventually found another job and am now in my second year teaching there. I love it all over again! Looking back, when I growing up thinking about how I didnt want to be a teacher, it never occurred to me to be a high school teacher. Now I wouldnt want to do anything else! They make my job fun. The moment a kid just gets it makes everything worth it.
The above Confucius quote is true…some days it is hard, but there is never a day that I dont love my job.