Fourteen years ago, when I first began my career in education, I was working as a second grade assistant teacher at a school in Chicago. Near the end of school one day in March, the second graders were packing up their bags, getting ready for dismissal, and putting their winter coats on. We had just finished a really fun lesson about Egyptian mummification. The kids were very excited and energetic.
Just then, a boy in my class came up to me and said, “Mr. Lind, you know what I want to be when I grow up? I want to be a second grade assistant teacher!” I’ll never forget that moment. It was then, early in my career, that I realized the powerful influence that teachers can have on children. It was also a defining moment for me that made me realize how much I truly enjoyed my job.
But these moments, the moments when you realize you enjoy your job, happen a lot as a teacher, especially at Village. Sometimes, it comes in the form of an “Aha!” moment, witnessing something click in a student’s mind. Other times, it is a hilarious instant of spontaneity in a class full of laughing kids, or maybe it happens when an alum comes back to visit and share their accomplishments. Teaching, simply put, can be extremely rewarding…but no reward comes without struggle. Teaching can be difficult, hectic, and overwhelming. As much as we strive to provide structure and routine for our students, every day is different, and every day in the life of a teacher is full of important decisions that affect the experience of many others. Sometimes, it can seem like a monumental task to provide the right challenge and an equal balance for each and every student. Some days are incredibly taxing. Some are incredibly emotional. But in the end, the joy wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for the challenges.
Ultimately, teaching boils down to making connections. Getting to know and understand your students is not only beneficial to the kids, but it's also extremely beneficial to us as teachers. I often tell my classes that I learn as much from them as they do from me. Building relationships with students, seeing the smiles on their faces as they learn, and watching them develop their skills over the course of the year is what teaching is all about. I greatly admire that the Village community fosters the idea of learning and growing together.
Teaching is a journey that starts and ends with human connection, and what greater joy can you receive than that?
Upper Division Teacher