About a month ago, my school did a professional development class in which we took a personality survey. My results said that I am a logical, ideological, big picture, and concept thinker, with an equal amount of social and planning processes. I am assertive, competitive, and highly agreeable. Basically, if you ask me what I want to eat for dinner, I am going to say I don’t care, because I really do not care and would be happy going anywhere. All month, our staff has been running around, saying “That is so blue (logical) of you”, or “I am a red (social) thinker so you can’t get mad at me for my mess”. If I were to have taken that survey six years ago, my results would have been completely different. So, today as I sat at the computer lab with my students, I thought just about how teaching has changed my life.
For one, I talk a lot more. My sister will attest to this. Teaching has caused me to become more of an extrovert, sometimes even annoyingly so. As a teacher, I am used to being the ring leader of the circus. I am used to being the attention whore, the one who everyone needs to pay attention to, and the one who is in control. My sister always criticizes me, because she says I start talking about my day as soon as I walk in the door without even being asked so. Oops. An interesting point that our training made is that introverts process their thoughts in their heads and don’t see the point in sharing them with everyone else because in their minds, it is already a done deal. Extroverts, on the other hand, process their thoughts by talking. Teaching has exactly changed me in this way. I remember being in college and spending hours trying to write a paper. I would finally call my dad and explain my ideas. I knew he had NO idea what I was saying, but the fact of talking it out made the light bulb go off in my head. They have also caused my mind to be in the gutter. I have learned more about Mexican trains, two on ones, hanging like a horse than I ever wanted to know, despite my efforts to just tune it out.
Teaching has taught me a far greater amount of patience than I ever thought I had. I am constantly answering the same question: “Yes, first you need to click on Schoology. Then, find our class. Next, go to files/links. Then download the assignment. Next, click the yellow enable editing box. Yes, now you can start working” for every. single. student. I have kids with Aspberger’s and ADHD, who constantly pace back and forth, are in my classroom every class period, have the same question over and over again. We take the same capitalization quizzes every week until the students start capitalizing their own names. Yes, teaching requires more patience than you can imagine.
Through my students, I have observed just how unfair the world can be. I have kids come into my classroom who couch surf, whose parents clean the floors at Wal-Mart at night and drive the mail truck during the day. I have students whose parents kicked them out of the house, students who have lost their legs, students who survived cancer at the age of 8. And yet, they continue showing up to class, every day, willing to learn. These kids motivate me, because if they can do it, I can too. I had a really bad day about four weeks ago. I remember being on my way to school, tears streaming out of my eyes, wondering how I was going to make it through the day. I walked into my classroom, not even having to say anything at all to my students, and was overcome with their innocence, enthusiasm, and drive. My students saved me that day and continue to support me in inconspicuous ways . I have learned to be non judgmental. These kids are a product of their environment and their experiences. I always have to remind myself to take a step back and consider why they are doing what they are doing before I get angry and seek punishment; most of the time, these kids are innocent, searching for their way in the world.
Most importantly, teaching has taught me not to take myself too seriously. I feel like I put on the “Britany show” for eight hours a day. I stand in front of my class, make a fool out of myself, and hope that my students will still learn something at the end of the day. No, I will never connect to every single student. No, not every single student will think I am the best thing since sliced bread. Yes, there will be students who just don’t like me. And I have to accept that. Although we can try, we can’t get along with everyone. There are too many personality combinations for that to happen. When I first started teaching, I would get annoyed and stop talking when I heard a student at the back of the room giggling, because I, being narcissistic, automatically thought that student was making fun of me. But I had to learn to let that go. Oh well if they are laughing at me; I am who I am and I am not afraid to let that out. High schoolers suck. They are insecure, not confident, lost, irresponsible, and looking to throw anyone under the bus possible, which often ends up being the teacher.
Being a teacher is perhaps the most rewarding profession of all time. I could not see myself doing anything different. It is challenging, it tugs at your heart strings, and every day, my students encourage me to be a better teacher, a better role model, and a better person overall. We had this saying in my teaching school that was, “Saving Lives Since 2011” (actually, we created a Facebook group about it) and it could not be more true. Teaching has saved my life.