15 students walk into a classroom. They ask what they’re learning, and their teacher replies with, “I don’t know, ask Christina.” Suddenly, all eyes are on me and I – a student myself – am the teacher.
When I was younger, I was constantly told that I should teach. Teachers, parents, friends, classmates; all of them always said the same thing. Of course, when I was 12, I had no interest in teaching.. I briefly considered art, then later realized that I couldn’t draw or paint… or draw a straight line. Then, I considered music. I can sing, play instruments (a little bit), and keep time. Music stuck with me for several years, well into looking for colleges at the start of high school. But even that didn’t feel like the right fit.
Musical theater was the next thing I tried and it completely encompassed my life. I wanted to be a stage actor, and then it was a stage crew member, and then it was a stage manager. I followed this all the way until junior year of high school when it finally clicked. I loved my role in theater because I was teaching people how to move things promptly, how to build things, and how to use new power tools. I was teaching and that’s why I loved it.
By my senior year, I finally settled on teaching. And now, I’m a junior in college who just finished implementing her first lesson plan to a real class of high school students. I was beyond terrified; I had a mental breakdown with my roommate the night before. I cried about how teaching isn’t for me, how this field wasn’t what I thought it would be, how I knew I couldn’t do it. Nothing in my life had ever felt more wrong than teaching had in that moment.
Smash cut to the morning of my lesson. I could tell something was wrong. Everything felt off. I woke up before my alarm, I couldn’t pull myself out of bed, my tummy hurt so bad. Everything was yelling at me to stay home. I decided not to listen and pushed forward. I got out of bed, changed into my work clothes, and grabbed my things to start my walk to school. Mistake. As I was leaving for the elevators in my building, my worst fear came to fruition. I threw up. For the first time in years, I actually threw up. But, I pushed forward. I could leave after my lesson if I had to. This needed to be done, and I was going to make sure it was.
At that point, I texted my mentor teacher saying I was going to be a bit late, and I headed out. Once I got to the school, I sat down with my mentor teacher and he gave me a few tips. Everything was going to be fine, I was going to get through my lesson and I was going to do great. I was a little calmer. I still had 3 hours until I actually had to teach. I could take a breather. During that time, I went over my lesson plan with my clinical supervisor, who would be monitoring my lesson. I felt sick again, and almost broke down in tears. I had put so much work into this degree, but what if it wasn’t good enough? What if I had no positive feedback? What if I shouldn’t be a teacher?
I’ve struggled with anxieties like these for my entire life. The only way I’ve been able to work through them was by facing the problem head-on. That’s exactly what I did. Going up to the front of the classroom, I could feel my instincts kicking in. I wanted to teach these kids this lesson, I needed to. I knew if I hadn’t done it, my mentor teacher would’ve. But I needed to be the one to do it. I needed to prove to myself that I made the right choice. I related to my students, I laughed with my students, and I conversed with them. I did something I never would have expected I’d be able to do in one lesson, let alone ever. I connected with my students.
In the coming years, I know they’ll forget me. They’ll forget the silly TikTok I used as an example in my lesson. They’ll forget what I looked like. They’ll forget what my name is. But I know I’ll never forget them. After all of the second thoughts, the fear, the anxieties, the I’m-not-good-enough; I still did it. The entire experience solidified all of the work I’ve put into my education for the past couple of years. I’ll end this long-winded article with a quote from my high school government teacher. A quote I plan to pass on to every student that walks through my door in the many years to come. A quote I hope every person can live by.
“Go forth, and conquer.”