This past summer, I taught algebra in Miami, Florida for the 3rd summer in a row. Besides algebra, I also taught a course on my experiences abroad in Sevilla, Spain, where I studied through the William & Mary program from January through May. For the 3rd summer I have drawn this conclusion…
TEACHING WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER BE EASY.
Imagine working 70 hours a week grading homework, creating homework, copying homework and making sure your students are up to date…on their homework. Sometimes the students would complain, or they will call me on my cell phone and complain. Basically this summer, my life was in the palms of all 15 of my students. I had no life.
But on the weekends, when I was away from my students, I (and the other teachers) absolutely could not stop talking about them. They had become such an integral part of our lives that without them, we seemed a bit incomplete (cheesy, I know). When it comes to teaching, it’s really easy to focus on the tough parts of the job, when in reality, the smallest things can turn your day completely around. One student in particular always had a difficult time in math. He absolutely despised the idea of calculating numbers. He would gruff, groan, fall asleep in my class, and at times, try to “forget” his homework in my classroom so that he didn’t have to do it…but one day after class, he came to me and said, “Thanks for class today, Lamar”. And I almost died from bewilderment.
The moral of this is to let those who are reading out there know that if you’ve never taught, whether it’s for a few days or even a whole summer, DO IT. You will learn about your strengths, your weaknesses, your level of patience and your capabilities as a person. The phrase “Teaching is the most noble profession” always irked me until I became one. Now, I know for sure that that phrase is a complete understatement.
If you’re interested in changing your and another child’s life for the better, check out http://www.breakthroughmiami.or.
-Lamar Shambley ’10