Pick a blog on this site and you’ll see just how important it is that we train and retain a new generation of quality educators; we simply don’t have enough on a national level – and low pay and per pupil spending in Arizona makes the problem dire. I have chosen to teach. On purpose. And it’s hard. And it’s important… but that’s the topic of another blog. At this moment in history… amidst a political circus and at a point of time in which women and our youth are finding their voices to wake a nation… I’m more curious about why young people would intentionally choose to teach.
To satisfy this curiosity, I’ve spent the past few months asking young people why they want to teach – and I started with my own child. As my personal kiddo, they’ve lived the joys and pains of being an educator right alongside me, and they’ve decided to become a teacher now that they’ve graduated from high school. When asked to write a guest blog about why they want to become a teacher, their thoughts are below. (Click here to learn more about gender-neutral pronouns if you haven’t yet gotten hip on them).
Why do I want to be a teacher? I believe in love. At the core of everything I could possibly imagine doing or being, love is always there. I want to build a community garden to make healthy options more accessible in food deserts, I want to open my house and adopt teens to give them the financial support they need before they’re adults, I want to be a teacher and inspire kids to pursue their passions no matter what. In elementary school, the idea was formed that I wanted to be a Special Education teacher solely because the best ones encouraged and supported their students- like every teacher should be doing. I sat on that thought for years and years not questioning it at all. Things changed in 9th grade. I found a program called Creative Musical Arts and Sciences (CMAS) and threw myself wholeheartedly into something I didn’t know would come full circle. I dedicated myself to sound engineering and set myself up for the life of studios and musicians.
Life got complicated (as complicated as a middle-class teenager’s life could get) and in my junior year, the love dissipated; I got fed up and, quite frankly, didn’t want to do anything with my life. I ran into teachers who were racist, sexist, homophobic – I’ve even had teachers laugh in my face when coming out to them as trans. That kind of hatred made me rethink teaching; was it worth it if students would be afraid to come to me? Would I be able to handle my coworkers treating our students like that? What about the parents, the staff, the other students?
Since graduating high school a few months ago, I’ve had time to calm down and reflect. Over the years, teachers changed my life time and time again. Admittedly, some of the most memorable were in high school. Mr. P. brought out the skills in me I didn’t know I had, let alone the knowledge on how to nurture those skills. Mrs. M. showed me that if I chose to just float by without challenging myself that, sure, I could meet any requirements but I would be stunting my growth not only as a student, but as a person too. Mr. M. introduced me to the passion that’s still neck-and-neck with teaching: sound engineering. Mr. H. taught me how to criticize and support someone at the same time all while being completely 100% myself. Even teachers I never had, like Ms. P. and Ms. C. brought joy and love to my life in little things, like saying hello, and big things like fighting the active racism and transphobia on campus.
Every single teacher I hold dear in my heart helped me understand the capacity of love there is in the world and within myself too. Not enough teachers really impact their students as people because it feels like, in their minds, we’re “just” students. Everyday, I deal with snippy people who only see me as “just” a Starbucks barista. They don’t see my abundant love, they don’t see what I do outside of work, they don’t even see the teacher in me who wants to bring joy to the world, not half-loaded cappuccinos… they just don’t know. It really hit me that no matter where I end up- teaching music/sound engineering, or general art, or even in community centers- I want to be teaching in some capacity. Somebody will be impacted by me, somebody will realize their potential or form better versions of themselves or hell, even go on to teach because of me. Or maybe not, but that possibility is so overpowering and motivating that I can’t ignore it. I believe love can change lives, and just like languages, it’s better to learn how to love starting at a young age and has to be nurtured throughout your entire life. What better way to do that than by being a teacher?
Reading my personal kiddo’s thoughts about why they want to become a teacher has been humbling and inspiring. Child of mine: thank you for sharing your heart and joy with the world… I know you will swirl all the goodness you’ve gleaned from the teachers you hold in your heart and will serve up a Venti cup of awesomeness to your future students.