I always looked up to my teachers in high school. As I sat in my classes, wide-eyed and unsure of the subject I was learning, my teachers were usually there to help me gain new understanding of the concepts being learned in class. They knew what they were talking about, professionals in their career, with years and years of teaching experience under their belt.
Whenever I looked at them, I would focus on the wrinkles around their eyes, their mouth, their forehead, and think to myself, how old will I be once I start aging like them? Before I become a teacher like them?
They were adults. Real, big, mature adults. And I was just a teenager, daydreaming about what kind of teacher I would be when I grew up. Now that I’m less than a year away from starting my teaching credentials, and thus, about 2.5 years away from becoming a teacher, I’m wondering if I’ll ever look mature like my teachers did. I’m still waiting for my fine lines to set in, so to speak. I’m still a young woman. Only 20, soon to be 21. Which means I’ll be around 23 when I’m not Pegah anymore, but Ms. Mahmoud.
It’s a little weird to think about . . . that I’ll be the figure that my teenage self would often daydream about. At times, I feel like I am not ready to be an individual that has power to make an impact on students, because what if the impact is negative? I can motivate and encourage a student to learn and feel good about themselves, that’s amazing. That’s what I’ll always be striving for – what every teacher strives for. But what if I completely ruin their dreams by being the teacher that no one likes?
All I know for certain is that teaching is going to be difficult. Not only because there are countless of hours put into perfecting the classroom, keeping parents happy, and making sure students are learning, but there is also the stigma teachers receive. There is a poisonous belief that teachers have it easy: “Those who can’t, teach.”
In article titled “The problem with teachers, according to Gov. Kasich,” Kasich states that the “problem with education is that teachers, when not in class, spend their time sitting in fancy teachers lounges discussing low pay and vanishing benefits.” Along with Kasich’s derogatory remarks, Albert Shanker, an influential educational figure in the 80s, concluded that “a lot of teachers who have been hired as teachers are basically not competent.”
This is offensive in my eyes, and I am positive that these remarks are an offense to teachers across the nation. Are there truly unqualified teachers who teach? Yes, absolutely. Every career field has a few bad apples. Does this mean that all teachers are incompetent? Not at all. And who is Kasich to say that teachers spend all their time in “fancy” teacher’s lounges? What kind of reality is he living in where he thinks fancy teachers lounges even exist?
Not to mention the casual conversation my brother brought up one night. “I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I think I’ll start teaching.” As if the career is a last resort, a simple thing to accomplish as long as you have a degree.
I believe that teachers are one of the most hardest working, dedicated individuals there are. Teaching is hard. And I do believe that teachers are not paid enough for what they do. It’s a career that is fit for certain individuals – not a job that you can get just from stating, “I think I want to be a teacher.”
I not only gave respect to my past teachers, but I gave myself more respect. The choice of career I’ve made won’t be an easy one, but I’m ready for it – ready to have the same wrinkles around my eyes, my mouth, and my forehead, not because I’ll be old, but most likely because I’ll be putting up with a lot of shit, just like my teachers did.
The next time you see your teacher, given you like them, display your appreciation. You may never know just how much a teacher can value it when faced with countless plights of their own.