I am 100% sure teaching is my calling because I love inspiring people. English is the subject I teach. I love English, but I consider myself much more than an average English teacher. Since day one, I’ve set out to be a mentor to my students, to be the wise, cool friend they trust and listen to, not the boring old maid with glasses who just doesn’t “get it”.
Every time I hear a student telling me they want to grow up and be like me, I feel a little embarrassed but very flattered, like every little thing I’ve done, every sacrifice I’ve made is worth it. I’m by no means a model of success by conventional standards. I’m not a dot-com billionaire or a movie star. I don’t own huge houses or fancy rides. I probably would’ve be much richer and more “successful” had I been less dignified. I don’t have much to substantiate my self-worth with other than my academic achievements and several books I’ve written.
Somehow, in those teenage eyes, I’m the person they consider worth aspiring to be. They’re touched by my hard work, my constant strive for excellence and the resilience I’ve demonstrated in dealing with difficult situations. They want to be confident, strong and optimistic. They want to be appreciated for who they are. They want to stay true to themselves and have the courage to not give in to dogma and expectations from others.
Sometimes I don’t know who’s influencing who. When I fall, when I feel like I don’t want to try again anymore, when I feel like I should just stop dreaming and start “growing up”, I remind myself I’m not fighting only for me. I’m not one of those teachers who says one thing and does another. If I stop believing in myself, if I stop trying, how can I tell my students to dream on?
That’s why when I make a decision, I make sure it’s the same decision I’d advise my students to make. I need to be their role models because there are so few people worth looking up to these days.
It’s the greatest compliment when a youngster so full of life thinks you’re the most awesome person on earth. I’d thank them and tell them, “I want you to be even better than me because your pride is mine.”