For most of my life, I’ve been a student. I’ll always be a student, because we’re always learning, right? I know people say they can’t wait for formal school to be done, but when college was over for me, it felt like I was losing a part of my identity. I SO identified with being a student- it was (and still is) who I am.
You can call it being the teacher’s pet, or whatever you want, but I’ve always sought to be in relationships with all of my teachers. I would linger in class after we’d finish so I could catch a juicy tidbit of info, or ask a question. I would think of ways to connect more deeply with the subject, go above and beyond with my projects and papers, study hard to pass my tests with no mistakes because I wanted to show that I was engaged, and that I cared about what the teacher was trying to teach me.
Maybe it was how I was raised, or maybe it was just who I am (probably a bit of both), but my teachers have always been some of my favorite people. I’ve been very lucky to find that some have become more than just teachers- they’re my mentors, people who throughout my life I’ve looked to for guidance.
Now, as I start to dive into becoming a teacher myself on a more regular basis, I find myself wishing I had taken better notes on how to be a good teacher. What is it about my teachers that drew me to them? What did they have to say that I found compelling? Sometimes, I doubt myself and wonder “Why would these students want to listen to what I have to say"?” Sometimes I simply wonder “What is it that I have to say?” It’s not that I don’t know things- I know I know things. But, being a teacher means somehow taking it to the next level and understanding how to make many different minds hear what you say, understand it in their own way, and process it and make it work for them.
When you think about it this way, teaching is an immense responsibility and undertaking. No wonder I stress out about it every week! I’ve interacted with so many wonderful teachers in my life, that I know I have a tall mountain to climb to reach that level that my own teachers have reached. Beyond this, I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to go from teacher, to mentor. That is another mountain in itself. To make being a teacher into your life, connect personally with your students, let them into your own life, admit to your own failures or struggles in order to hopefully help your own students avoid them, and support them to the fullest extent. When I think about it, mentors are treasures to cherish.
My ending thoughts are both of gratitude and of aspiration. I want to share how grateful I am for my mentors, and hope that I get the chance to return the favor and take on the role someday. It would be an honor to follow in the footsteps of the mentors I’ve learned from, and pass on their knowledge. I hope that by practicing good habits as a teacher, I can inspire my students just like my own teachers have inspired me. It’s a challenge but one that I seem to continue to rise to each week. Now, off to plan lessons!