When I was a junior in high school my family members and friends would frequently ask me what I wanted to be. For the longest time this question plagued me because I had no clue. It seemed like everywhere I turned there was this inescapable question. Many times I would respond by telling them that I would let them know when I grew up. When that answer didn’t suffice I would explain my case further. I had watched too many people around me who went to work five and sometimes six days a week to a job that they hated and faced with dread. It was clear that their only motivator was money. During that time I may not have know exactly what I wanted to do but I did know that I did not want to end up like some of them who simply lived for the weekends. I will admit that it may have taken me longer than usual to discover what career path I wanted to pursue, but now I am certain. I want to be a teacher.
Throughout the following years after high school I set out on many different endeavors. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed working with young people. This has become one reason why I have decided to be a teacher. Over the course of the last four years I had been given the opportunity to work extensively with young people in various age groups and settings. It was during that time that I saw the spark in a young persons eye when they learn something new and it connected with something in side of me. As I further worked with young people I decided that in some capacity this is what I wanted to do with my future.
In 2006, Max Lucado wrote a book entitled, “Cure for the Common Life.” In this book Lucado unpacked the idea that every person is designed to live in their “sweet spot.” Some people may be familiar with the phrase “sweet spot.” Usually people identify it on a golf club or a baseball bat. This is the spot on these two devices that when hit correctly sends the ball in the desired direction with precision and finesse. I can say with confidence that my “sweet spot” is teaching. The first time that I officially taught a lesson was in the youth ministry that I was a part of. I was presented the chance to teach our youth on a ministry trip that we had taken out of state. I spent hours preparing for that one lesson and it paid off. I remember the moments before I was to begin the lesson, my stomach was in knots and I felt a lump in my throat. It was only moments into the lesson that I knew I had connected with my sweet spot in life.
I believe that teachers have a great opportunity and responsibility to impact their students. As President Obama said in his most recent State of the Union Address, “Teachers are the building blocks of America.” Teachers can encourage a student to excel to great heights and achieve whatever they want to become. I agree that the future of America will be shaped through the efforts of effective educators. When I reflect back over my educational experience I can identify numerous teachers who made a difference in my life on all educational levels. I could name teachers from grade school all the way into my college career that has profoundly impacted my life and shaped my educational experience. I know that this is what I want to do for others. I want to be a teacher so that I can make a difference to the students I hope to teach.
I don’t believe that a single good characteristic makes a teacher great or effective. I believe that a great teacher has multiple characteristics that shaped them into becoming effective in what they do. I am thankful for what I have been able to be a part of in the last few years because I know it has led me unto this moment. At various stages of my life I have been fortunate to unearth different pieces of my puzzle. At one stage I have discovered that I enjoy really enjoy working with young people, at another I found my passion for teaching, and another I realized that I could make a difference in someone’s life. Each part of who I am has helped me to see that I want to be a teacher because I know it’s something that I care deeply for and love.
P.S. For those of you who haven't heard, I was accepted into the TEP following an interview with the Education Department Chairs as of 11.10.11. Which means I am one step closer to seeing this dream come to pass. I would like to say thank you to all of you for your prayers and support. With Love, John