Why do you want to be a teacher?

I arrived at the desire and determination to be a teacher through a long, winding road of chasing what I thought I wanted and trying new things. 

I first decided to pursue teaching in 2010: when I’d already switched my college major from engineering to counseling to nursing and was looking again for the next thing, I asked how else I could use my talents in science and math to help others and landed (somewhat unenthusiastically) on teaching high school biology.

Over the next year, I took three creative writing courses (just for fun, I thought) and a spring/summer internship teaching science to 1st – 8th grade students at a private school prep program. These experiences not only showed me I was skilled at teaching and writing, but that I loved them. I had always known I loved English but had never pursued it as a major or career, thinking there was no money in it. Now, I decided I didn’t care and transferred to The Master’s College as an English major.

My professors at TMC, especially Grant Horner, exhibited to me the art of great teaching as I’d never seen it before (except in Alene Terzian at COC). From this inspiration and from my ever-deepened love for the field of English came the desire to somehow make a career in this field, but I doubted it was realistically possible.

I think I always knew I wanted to teach, but angling for a full-time professorship seemed impossible, and I was sure teaching high school English would come with a vow of poverty. After graduating in 2013, I worked three different full-time, corporate-ish jobs, searching for ways to apply the skills and talents I’d developed during my time at Master’s. This I found, and in the bargain I learned more than I’d ever thought possible from these fields, but I found no place to put down roots and take on a career.

In summer 2016, I took on a job teaching three SAT test-prep classes in a private program. This was my first time teaching English in a classroom setting (as opposed to tutoring) and I found I loved it. I was teaching high school students essay-writing, grammar, and language arts five days a week, and I loved it. I don’t even find grammar interesting, but I loved teaching it!

Around this time, I began for the first time to seriously consider teaching high school English. I looked at the pay schedules for the Hart District and talked to a few teachers there (including some who’d taught me when I was in high school), and from these I concluded that I actually could support a family in Santa Clarita (if not lavishly) on a teacher’s salary, and that teaching English at a public high school actually would give me scope and freedom to do what I love.

So, here I am: I took plenty long coming round to it, but I love teaching – and, more importantly, I love learning. Perhaps that’s why I love teaching in the first place, because I love learning and want to share its wonder with young minds. I realize there will be many unwilling students, long nights, mountains of papers, shoddy assignments, irate parents, and unpaid hours, and maybe even stress-induced health problems, hostility towards my faith, and unsupportive admins. 

But I’m ready.

lego-movie-i-think

This rather dry word-salad was assembled originally for my application to the teaching credential program at The “One and Only” Master’s University — graduating 2018, whoop whoop!

I had a dream: I must master kung fu

Lightning Storm at Beach Over the Atlantic Ocean

I had a dream that said I’m destined to master kung fu. I’m doing it.

I was in a videogame, watching myself, not sure I was controlling my actions. The action climaxed on a tropical beach. The clouds turned crimson and thundered, and from the lightning over the water a giant rubber ducky appeared. This monstrosity shot lightning bolts at me; I found myself dodging at incredible speed with martial mastery. Then I woke up.

So kung fu? Essentially, it’s not a martial art, but “skill gained through long effort and application of prolonged practice” (according to Victor Mair of UPenn).

As a citizen, debater, employee, speaker, and soon-to-be teacher, the skill I’m destined to master is kung fu of the mind.

Here’s how I read the dream: whether real life is illusion (videogame or otherwise), whether I really have agency over my actions, whether this dream was a sign or subconscious gibberish, whatever horrors strange or mundane may come, I must do the best I can with my abilities and circumstances. So I’m learning to ground myself and discern and interpret all things nimbly and skillfully, whatever their source: to engage with information and argument, take it all in, take it apart, critique it, digest, and apply it, whether in the realm of literature, teaching, science, business, or anything — to see the lightning coming, dodge, and (eventually) learn to redirect it back.

I know kung fu. And it will empower everything I do in life, for building my students, others, and myself.

 

This short and somewhat silly (but mostly serious) submission was created for Unigo’s I Have a Dream scholarship.

[Photo cred Kim Seng via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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