Being a teacher matters, every day

Just saying, when it came time in high school to start thinking of something to major in in college, being a teacher was at the absolute bottom of my list. I never thought I would be good at it, and it just wasn’t something I was passionate about.

I almost went as far as to not apply for a scholarship within my Master’s program because teaching terrified me so much, but that’s weak and I am not. Then again, I didn’t think I would get it so I just went ahead and went for it. BUT HEY I GOT IT, and then I spent the next 3 months worrying about how I was going to make a speech class exciting for 23 students just a couple years younger than me. Challenge accepted?

Thoughts running through my head when I found out: WHY. They are going to give me a bad eval. They are going to hate me. What if they ask a question I can’t answer. They won’t like my music. They will know I’m inexperienced. What if they don’t like my outfits. What color lipsticks are acceptable to teach in. What if they don’t learn anything. I’m not qualified. What do I have to do to get out of this. I’m dropping out of grad school.

I’m also being super overdramatic about 75% of what I just said and if you can’t figure out which ones were obvious jokes then just stop reading.

I will never forget my first day of teaching. I read over my syllabus probably 200 times trying to make sure I myself knew all the material. I paced around my office for a good 2 hours. I stress ate a jumbo bag of brownie brittle for breakfast and lunch, and I can’t even begin tell you how sweaty my armpits were. Ugh embarassing. I am also pretty sure I let my class out after like 15 minutes because I was talking so fast out of nervousness.

I was so nervous because I cared. I JUST WANTED THEM TO LIKE ME. 

When I took speech class my freshman year I absolutely hated it. My instructor did not care the least bit about getting to know any of us. He lectured in the most horrible monotone voice you could possibly imagine and that was it. To be honest, I didn’t get much out of it. Scratch that, I did get nothing out of it. I gave my 3 speeches and I couldn’t even tell you any valuable feedback I got back. The class was a waste of my precious tuition dollars. Don’t you hate when you pay damn near a grand or more or less for a required class that literally did nothing for you? 

I promised myself that I would be better, and I think I was!

Being a teacher has been the most rewarding experience of my college career by far. 

Teaching is…

Developing a special relationship with your class that goes beyond just teaching. Spending 50 minutes 3 days a week with 23 students you start to feel like more of a family than just a teacher teaching a required class. I genuinely had fun and looked forward to seeing my students every class period. I lectured less, and encouraged discussion more. Hearing their opinions and experiences being applied to the text was more rewarding for everyone involved. 

Also, it is really hard to make speech class fun because who actually likes giving a speech? No one. 

Teaching is….

Trying to make a class that isn’t fun, fun? I had kids that were not jazzed one bit about the class to begin with, but I tried really hard to make each class the kind of enviornment where we could have open discussion and learn through activities. They loved it because they were actually applying the material to real situations. How many freshman level classes do you get to ACTUALLY get to feel a part of?! Sitting in a 200 person lecture hall is difficult to find belonging. 

Teaching is….

Seeing how much your students evolve from the first day of class to the last. Many of them will start off shy, and probably uninterested thinking, “I just need to get through this class so I can move on.” By the end of the class you see a major difference from their first speech to their last. It feels so good to see that they value your feedback and wanted to improve. 

Teaching is….

Not just focused on the class material. At the beginning and end of class everyone always talked about how their other classes were going and it was just always nice to catch up and hear about their weeks. If they were stressed, I got to hear about it. Many of my students told me my class was their favorite because they felt like they were an important part of it. Most days I spent an extra 10-20 minutes after class with students who liked to just stick around and chat about things outside of our class. Successful teaching goes beyond the classroom. 

Teaching is….

Then sometimes being a teacher is more than being a teacher. Sometimes it’s a mentorship. You become someone that some students will really look up to and depend on for support. I always tried to be as relateable as possible to my class. Of course I wanted them to respect me as their instructor, but I wanted them to know that I cared about them as well. Sometimes your students will be having roommate problems, problems in other classes, or girlfriend/boyfriend trouble, and you’ll be the person they want to talk to about it. Some teachers don’t want any part of their students personal lives, but I think that if they are coming specifically to you, there’s a reason for it. 

Teaching is….

Seeing your students develop great friendships with one another. This made my heart so happy. I loved when they participated in class discussion with me, but I loved even more when they would discuss openly to one another and help each other out if one was struggling in an activity or to answer a question. 

Teaching is….

Spending some really late nights grading papers and speeches. It honestly probably shouldn’t take that long, but I want to give them valuable feedback anyways regardless of whether or not they are going to actually read it. I always think that if I try, they will try. 

Teaching is….

Literally being so pathetically sad on the last day of class. Administering my final exam was SO HARD. I had the opportunity to spend a whole semester getting to know and teach a class of 23 really amazing kids who I have no doubt will all go on to acheive great things. We became a family, and I really struggled with the fact that I wouldn’t have them in class anymore. LIKE UGH COULD I BE ANY MORE DEPRESSING RIGHT NOW, but it’s so true! Being a teacher is hard because you get attached, and they get attached to you. 

I think the best educators are the ones who don’t just show up to class because it’s their “job”. Teaching really is something you have to be passionate about in order to be good at. The professors I’ve had that were passionate were the ones that inspired me to put forth my best effort into everything that I do. I try to teach my class in similar ways that i’ve been taught. The education system needs more passionate teachers. 

Teaching is not just teaching, it’s also learning. I learned so much about myself through the experience. I learned that I can be successful at the thing I never thought I could or wanted to do, as well as adding another thing to the list of 60 things that I’m already passionate about. Ugh. I would. Can’t stop won’t stop. 

– xo Rach aka “Mrs. Barter” 

     – I hate it when they call me that. They do it on purpose because they know. 

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