These are difficult questions to address. The reason being that I have yet to become a “teacher” – a professional educator. I can only imagine and dream of what kind of teacher I will one day be. And never do my dreams turn out to reflect reality. Life always tends to lead me down a path that I never predict properly. So perhaps it may be better to label myself as a learner and instead, ask the questions: “Who am I as a learner?” and “Who might I become as a future educator?”
I’d like to start by saying that both my parents are teachers; my mother has taught for 38 years and my father for 16. My mother tells me that the first five years are the hardest and that the rest are even harder. My dad agrees with her. Similarly, both of my next-door neighbors are teachers. So, I guess you could say that I have been surrounded by both teachers and classrooms for the entirety of my life. If I am not at school learning with teachers, I’m at home learning with teachers. It is no wonder then that I am choosing to hang around and remain a part of this educational sphere – to keep on as a learner and to slowly learn how to be a teacher.
When I think of what kind of teacher I’d like to be, I always go back and reread this quote (it is my personal favorite):
This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body. - from Preface to Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (Emphasis Added)
In my view, Mr. Walt Whitman understood how one should live their life, and especially that of the teacher. They should consider themselves equal to all and therefore should take off their hat “to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men.” They should go freely with those “uneducated persons,” loving their lack of understanding instead of seeing them as a burden or a project – No deficit perspective allowed. A teacher should re-examine all that they know every year of their lives. In other words, a teacher should remain a learner and never have a closed mind.
Walt Whitman, himself, was a teacher in a way. He instructed people on how to live a happy and meaningful life through writing (in “Song of Myself” for example). I would like to pursue the same endeavor and help people live happy and meaningful lives. As a teacher, I would like to be a role model, but an authority figure at the same time. I would like to be conscious and conscientious towards the idea that every person is living in their own world – that they come from a world that is vastly different than my own. Obviously, as a teacher, my work will consist of teaching the basics like grammar and vocabulary and reading the many typical texts of a high school English course, but it will also consist of what makes us human and how us humans can live satisfying and significant lives. I want to show my students that the world offers an endless strain of knowledge and that it can be found anywhere and in anything, and not just in their hometown. I want to provide a “safe-space” for them, where they need not feel pressured or uncomfortable - a space that they can learn to love and have a desire to return to. I hope to offer them the education that I wish I had had when I was in high school.
Unlike many of my own teachers from the past, I am calm and rarely do I raise my voice. I also want to be present and standing tall (and not just hide behind my desk) and to teach with a passionate heart. I would like to be dedicated and devoted to my students and to hopefully instill in them a love for learning. Sadly, I didn’t gain my love for learning until I entered college. So, being the optimistic person that I am, I hope to provide these young individuals with that love at an earlier age.