Life gave me exactly what I needed today.
This past week or so has been tough. School and work have kept me busy and stressed, and my anxiety has been trying to knock me down. I’ve found myself thinking that maybe this career isn’t really for me, even though I’ve planned on being a teacher ever since I started school. For someone with anxiety, perfectionist tendencies and a need to please, teaching could quite easily be overwhelming. Hell, for someone who is completely mentally healthy, it’s an overwhelming career, especially in the first couple of years. And lately I’ve been wondering if I’m really cut out for it – if I can really handle being in a classroom for the rest of my working life, if I can connect with kids, if I can find fun and creative ways to teach the same old boring material, if I can come up with the ‘big questions’ that will make kids want to learn and discover, if I can be a good teacher, if I can make a difference.
Listening to some of my friends and peers in my program talk about their future classrooms and their lesson ideas and their big plans is terrifying sometimes. They seem to know exactly what they want and exactly how to get there. What if I can never reach that point? It’s easy for me to get drawn in to this vicious circle about how I’m not as good as everyone else and I’ll never get there so why even try. And just as my anxiety was about to pull me down that rabbit hole…
I had a class today with my new favourite professor who somehow managed to pull me (and several other classmates who, lo and behold, were feeling the same way) back from the edge. She was honest, and open, and told us all the things that we needed to hear:
“It’s not about being a perfect teacher. You go in to that classroom every day and you have to remember that above all, you are human. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. You are a human first, and then a teacher. There may be piles of curriculum to get through, but all you need to remember is to put their well-being first, and then you can start to teach them because they won’t learn from you until they are ready. You won’t be a great teacher every single day, and that’s okay. You will have good days and you will have bad days and you will have days when you are an excellent teacher and you will have days when you barely make it through, but you are not alone in this and most importantly of all, you will be okay.”
I think that given time, I will be a good teacher, but more importantly, I know that I will be okay.