A Teacher, I Thought I Wanted to Be One

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

You know them. They were a part of your life for like 15 years or more. Teachers play a role in who you are just by being around you for a semester at a time.

So, how did they affect your life?

This article is a reflection on the impact teachers have had on my life. Although I know there are more teachers who have impacted my life who are not addressed in this article. However, I hope it gives you some insight into the school teachers in your life.

I thought I wanted to be one, and maybe I still do. This is a reflection on becoming our role models.

I have always admired teachers. They were my role models for living life.

Them and Kate Winslet.

My heart never went on from the Titanic love story. Yes, I was that girl who saw the movie in the theater at least a handful of times. And as the years went on, I loved watching Mrs./Ms./Mrs. Winslet perform other unique characters in her acting career.

Oh, of course, I’ve enjoyed seeing Leo Dicaprio’s growth, too. They both seem to have let their hearts go on– for acting.

And now, I feel a song coming on.

But teachers, like the people who stand in front of 30 kids and try to entertain some knowledge into our brains so we become productive in our lives. Those people. I have learned so much more from them than just how to read or how to divide fractions. (I had to re-teach myself that one when I taught 5th grade, but it came back pretty quickly).

There are things that my teachers all did that were impactful, just in the way they interacted with students. Some were funny. Some held high expectations. But teachers made you feel like you were seen and heard, regardless of whether they liked me. They had to teach tough lessons. I wasn’t the best student.

In 3rd grade, my teacher taught me the valuable lesson of consequences. I changed into shorts on beach day when we were told not to. Beach day was a dress-up day and happened to be on the coldest day of the year. I got detention. She’s still my favorite teacher.

In middle school, a teacher pulled me out of class for being rude. He asked, “What is going on with you?” I started crying and said, I don’t know, but I am mad all the time. He took 5 minutes to listen to me and suggested I talk about my feelings with the school counselor.

When I was experimenting with many things in high school, I got a green hall pass to go to the counselor. What was this about? She was doing a check-up on me. Someone told her they were concerned about me.

When I returned to class, it was lunch, and I needed to grab my things. My teacher asked if everything was ok. I told her I thought so, but it was nice to talk with someone about stuff that was going on at home. I also told her that the counselor said someone was concerned about me. She said, “Ya, me. I can tell you are slipping. You don’t seem like yourself lately, and I wanted to be sure that everything was ok.” I started crying. It wasn’t, really.

I had been trying to get my parent’s attention for a long time, but they were busy dealing with other stuff going on in the family. I was destroying myself in the process. It was a teacher who showed me she cared.

My parents were good parents. They did the best they could with what they knew how. This isn’t a slight on them. Just a reflection on teachers’ impact on my life and still do.

I could go on about teachers who showed up to be my champion in my life.

My sociology professor came to the restaurant I worked at to inquire why I had switched majors. He had hope for me. In actuality, I declared sociology my major because he made the study of people and the institutional pillars of society exciting. Listening to his lectures was like a veil lifted over my preconceived notions of reality. But, I liked to drink too much to commit to a life of reading study after study of the consequences of manipulation. I liked to drink, but that felt like a step toward the dark side.

I drank too much to commit to anything really– except drinking. It took me years to realize this was one of my most significant problems all along.

I learned life lessons from adults who were not my parents. Teachers were always in my corner, despite the doubts I had in myself. I admired them. I respected them, despite my sassy, know-it-all rude overtones. Man, I was a jerk. I am not sure they will ever know their impact on my life.

But I knew I wanted to be one.

Not a jerk.

A teacher. I wanted to be a role model for others, a source of inspiration who treated people fairly no matter the circumstances.

But then, I became a certified K-8 teacher and found that maintaining a level head is much more challenging, especially when you are bombarded with other agendas, busy work, and designing intentional learning environments during a pandemic.

Yup, I started teaching during a pandemic. I was finishing my master’s and took a part-time teaching job to get my foot in the door. A month later, we were told to teach from home. My part-time job turned into a full-time job, and my stress levels increased tenfold. Read the full story here.

I mastered my morning routine but didn’t quit drinking at night. This affected my work performance and how I interacted with people. Little miss sassy frass came back. Maybe she never went away. But really, I found myself angry, annoyed, and becoming a person I didn’t want to be. Other things impacted my decision to take a break from teaching kids, but that’s a different article entirely.

After a few years of teaching, I was burned out, as was much of the rest of the world. I became a part of the great resignation by choice. I had some things I needed to figure out.

Like, what did I think teaching was going to be about? Self-discovery.

And what was teaching actually about? Academic skills sprinkled with life lessons here and there. Teaching self-discovery was much more complicated than I thought.

I don’t think I have found the right classroom yet.

In today’s world, you don’t have to be confined to brick walls. Life is a classroom, and there is life in the digital realm too.

So perhaps I will be a different kind of teacher.

One thing I know for sure is that writing has been my solace throughout my life. Perhaps my aspirations to be a role model for self-discovery will unveil here, on this writing platform.

Follow me to find out. Just click the follow button on this article. Give me some claps, and you’ll be plugged into the mysterious algorithm to see me more frequently in your daily Medium reads.

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If you want more, please subscribe to my newsletter, where I give insights on wellness, sobriety, and things I am learning from books. I want to help you live your best life, be that cheerleader in your corner as my teachers were for me.

Let me know how teachers have impacted your life in the comments below. I’ll reply back!

Have a beautiful day!

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Patty McMahon, M.Ed

Patty McMahon, M.Ed

Mother. Wife. Lover. Writing about alcohol free living and other daily insights on life as it happens. https://linktr.ee/pmacinsights