I didn’t set out to become a school teacher. You could say it was never part of my life plan. In fact when I was a child, I often opted to play student rather than teacher during my make believe play with friends. I liked to receive star stickers on my pretend schoolwork much more than I ever enjoyed giving them to others. However, almost exactly two years ago I was faced with a crossroad. I had a choice to either stay within the career field that I currently was in, one in which I had racked up an extensive amount of student loan debt to pursue and advance in, or I could take a different path. I chose the latter, primarily because the career I was in was no longer serving me. I had reached a point in which it failed to fuel that fire within. So, I jumped into the unknown, not really sure where it would take me.
Around this time, many different thoughts found their way into my head, most of which felt as though they came from outside myself, around what it would be like to transition to teaching. I then took the initiative to research what it would take to obtain a teaching certificate within my desired content area, which has always been health, and looked into job availability in my area. After spending many hours on the phone with the Department of Education, I was surprised to learn that in addition to the current courses I had already obtained in undergrad and in graduate school, I would only need to complete 2 additional classes specific to education and 3 standardized tests. I also found 2 health education teaching positions available within the town I was living at the time. It was as though all of the pieces were falling into place in order to encourage me to try. And that is exactly what I did. I put my hat into the ring and in all honesty I never thought anything would come from it.
I am now preparing to enter my third school year of teaching health and wellness at the middle school level. Now, more than ever before, I fully trust in the process of how my life has unfolded and I believe I am exactly where I need to be at this point in my life. That is not to say that teaching will be my career forever, as the only thing that is permanent in life is impermanence, but I am where I need to be in this moment of my life.
Within these last couple of years, I have learned so much from my students and my colleagues. I have been pushed to my limits, and at times in which I thought I couldn’t possible grow anymore, I have, enhancing my own potential. There are days that are downright hard, leaving you feeling as though your heart, mind, and spirit have been crushed into a million pieces, and you are unsure of how the pieces could ever come back together. But then you have a moment with a student, a moment in which you realize you are planting a seed that may not resonate with them right away, but you know will change their life in some way going forward. It is in those moments you understand you don’t have to put the pieces of your crushed heart, mind, and spirit back together. Instead they will fall back in place on their own. Maybe not exactly as they once were, but in a much stronger formation, allowing you to be a better version of what you once were, further solidifying that you are exactly where you need to be.
I also have never been exposed to a more resilient, compassionate, hard-working group of people, as I am now. It was impossible for me to fully appreciate the role of a teacher until I became one. The workday is never truly over, as grading and planning take up your time outside of the school day, and you think of the well-being of your students long after you have left the school building. Regardless of the obstacles, the individuals I work along side everyday continually show up ready to tackle the daunting task of molding young minds, and display more compassion for each and every one of their students than I ever thought was possible. After a full day of caring for and teaching other children, many of them go home to care for their own children, while also putting forth effort to nurture the relationship with their partner. It has shown me how big the heart can truly be as I watch them take on both of these tasks. They have also taught me the true meaning of patience, and I have never seen a group of people more willing to help one another. On those days that it feels as though I am in the trenches, I look to these people for support and know that they are right there beside me, encouraging me to become the best version of myself. It is in those moments that I am again reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Take a step back and look at where you are in life at this very moment. Are you where you thought you would be? For some of you the answer might be a definitive yes, but for many a few forks in the road lead to a different place. I encourage you to reflect on the journey that got you there. You may find through this reflection that you are in fact right where you are meant to be, and you may realize that your life has unfolded exactly as it always was intended to.