Patience. Lord knows I feel like I don’t have a whole lot of it lately. I’m anxious for the next few months to go by so I can finally say I’ve survived my first-year of teaching (which, as my mentor likes to remind me, I only have to go through once). I’m anxious to finish up my two grad classes so I can have a whole two months off, the longest break I will have had from academics in three years. But what’s been on my mind most lately is how desperately impatient I am to become the teacher I’ve always wanted to be. The kind of teacher who makes you realize that you have talents you have been too down-on-yourself to recognize. The kind of teacher who inspires you with her passion, who gives you experiences in the classroom that change what you want to do in the future.
I want to be the kind of teacher who made ME want to be a teacher.
I’ve been so upset lately realizing that I don’t believe that any of my students share my same love for history. And it makes me feel like a failure. Now, granted, I don’t have any quantitative evidence those of us in education are so fond of analyzing, but it’s just a sense that I have. Some seem to be interested, at least, but I feel like in failing to inspire them, I have failed all those teachers who have inspired me. Like the fifth grade teacher with a penchant for leopard print dresses who made me actually interested in science for a time, or the junior year history teacher who I always thought back to as I studied educational theories and instructional methods in college. And then there was the high school band teacher who revealed the beauty of classical music and working as a team, and the thesis advisor who revealed the beauty of Shakespeare’s plays to me.
But I have to remind myself that just because these educators made such an impact in my life doesn’t mean that they had the same effect on all the others who sat in those classes with me. Or that they were able to accomplish it all in their first year of teaching. It takes time and practice. And patience. Lots of patience. Because with each failure comes a little lesson of what to do better next time.
I remember how impatient I was to start teaching. My first day of observations in the fall of 2010 was filled with nerves as I got up at what is an ungodly hour for college students. I wore a dress and heels and practiced how I would introduce myself to a teacher I had only emailed a handful of times. Several weeks in, I delivered my first lesson to a room full of painfully quiet high school freshman, a review on different religions that they had been studying. As much as my voice quaked and my hands shook, I loved it. I drank in every moment, reassured with a rush of giddy excitement that I was actually pursuing the right career for me, and lamented the fact that there would be no education classes for me take the following semester, thereby putting these experiences on hold.
So what I was once impatient to begin I am now impatient to end, at least for a time. So I must remember my inspiration, remember my passion, and remember my purpose, and remain patient that slowly but surely I will become the teacher I want to be.