This post is written with two of my best friends in mind. They are not teachers by trade but are about to embark on the adventure of teaching English in South America.
To Allie, Kaitlyn, and anyone who teaches, here are my thoughts for you based on my (limited) teaching experience thus far.
1. A teacher is a wonderful thing to be.
To me, “teacher” is more than a job title–it is character trait that I want to cultivate in my life. Being a teacher means learning to care for others, to put the needs of your students above your own, to work hard and make sacrifices, to communicate clearly and kindly, to understand something deeply enough to explain it to others, to help people learn and grow. A teacher is the kind of person I want to be inside and outside of the classroom. Even as teachers in American society are often underpaid, undervalued, and sometimes blamed for the nation’s problem, I will always be proud to say that I am teacher.
2. Teaching gives you the opportunity to invest in what really matters.
During my first year of teaching, I remember feeling so overwhelmed with all the things I needed to spend time doing in order to be a “good teacher”. God brought to mind in that moment that there are only three eternal things that endure beyond this lifetime: God, God’s word, and the souls of people. As a teacher you get to spend your days investing in the souls of people. When it feels like you must have the perfectly planned lesson for every single subject, need to immediately incorporate all 7 reading strategies you just learned in professional development, and make that cute classroom decoration you saw on Pinterest, remember the only thing that really matters, that will really have lasting value, is how you treat the people God has entrusted to you for this short time.
3. “Do small things with great love.” -Mother Theresa
I think this quote is the single best piece of advice on how to be a teacher who makes an enduring impact. The daily life of a teacher is made up of doing tons of small things. Students can tell when we handle these small tasks from a place of love and I promise that doing so will make you a better educator. So make the worksheet with great love, grade the essays with great love, meet with students with great love, correct inappropriate behavior with great love, conference with parents with great love, give out band-aids with great love, explain that math problem (for the 9th time) with great love, tell your class to shut up and get back to work…with great love. All these small things shape how you will be remembered by your students. And how wonderful it is to leave a legacy of loving people well in your classroom!
Although teaching can be incredibly tough, especially when you’re first starting, education is something I can always feel passionate about and be thankful that I get to earn my living doing something so meaningful. I every teacher can see the value in their work and truly love what they do.