It’s funny, almost ironic, I taught a lesson about decisions to my students today. It was purely coincidental, but if anyone knew why April 28, 2015 is special to me. It can be summed up in one image:
Exactly one year ago, I gave up everything I had worked for in the media world to pursue a career in teaching. The details on what contributed to this decision will remain private. I’m willing to share them over some sushi or a beverage, but I’m focusing strictly on the past year.
The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) on this blog post: Becoming a teacher was the best decision I’ve made and I’m looking forward to continuing this path.
I don’t regret the choice I made at all. This year, albeit stressful and challenging, provided me with satisfaction beyond belief. Exactly, one year ago, I stood in a classroom for the first time to teach a lesson. Do not get me wrong. The first two days of my student-teaching experience focused mainly on understanding class dynamics and co-teaching classes. Then my cooperating teacher decided to shove me in head first, asking me to teach a vocabulary class. Needless to say, I paced back and forth in the prep period before the class. Mumbled to myself countless times. Probably gave myself a few slaps in the face too, because quite honestly, I was terrified. The last time I was in a classroom before this experience was in 2004. When it started, I found myself just going through the motions and trying to survive. I got through it. Took a deep breath and focused on getting better.
Over the course of the next 12 days – my total student teaching experience was 15 days total – I developed what ultimately became the foundation to what my teaching philosophy. Day by day, I infused my lessons with bits and pieces of my personality, taking my personal experiences and tying it back to the content. Students smiled. Students looked at me befuddled when they didn’t understand something. Students laughed. Students cracked jokes and I fired them back. By the end of the 15 days, I smiled. Not because it was over. Rather, I felt satisfaction and confidence that I can handle this job. I recalled calling all of the students into a huddle in the last three minutes of each class to tell them I truly appreciated every one of them. Some of them wished for me to teach at the school the following year. Sadly, I did not. I will say, though, it was gratifying to see one of my former students in that class tell me, “You brought me out of my shell and I felt like I learned a lot from you. … Some of us looked for you when the year started.” That comment made me smile. Even though it was a short period of time, I made some type of impact. Even if it won’t be remembered 10 years from now.
Looking back at the experience exactly one year later and countless days in the classroom later, I can safely say the feeling is still the same. I feel like I have grown as a teacher with so much more potential to grow and things I want to try next year. I own this terrible habit of looking to the future too often. But living in this exact moment, the year fostered countless memories. I’ve truly infused myself into my teaching and will continue to do so. I mean, how else can I use “Finding Nemo” as a method to analyze parenting styles, or Kendrick Lamar as an introduction to slave narratives, or using a Taylor Swift lipsync to help students find ways to rewrite “Romeo and Juliet” or use John Cena’s theme music as a method to teach figurative language. All of those are tied to me in a way. I have committed myself to the profession and it’s something I haven’t felt since I was trying to become an award-winning sports journalist (Spoiler: I accomplished that).
Who knows what will happen five years from now when most teachers leave the profession. All I know is that leaving everything I had known before to pursue this profession has been a good choice.