Every once in a while I ponder the roads I have gone down in my life. The biggest choices were often made early in life such as what college to attend, who to marry, where to live. There are no regrets for any of those choices. In fact, I recognize that I have been blessed to have a very enriched life. My ponderings are almost like a trip down memory lane that I enjoy reliving and they often help me learn things about myself. Today I ask myself why I became a teacher.
My earliest memories of teaching actually date back to when I was a youngster of 6 or 7. My student was my dad. Dad would come home from a hot day at the factory smelling of sweat and oil. I would be waiting for him at the back door, and though exhausted, he would quickly wash up and meet me at my little desk in my room where we played school. First, he would be the teacher and work with me on letters, reading, and simple math computation. The learning was fun and I wanted to please him in the worst way. Then, Dad would let me be the teacher and he was the student. This was a highlight for me! He would purposely make mistakes so that I could correct him and actually “teach” him skills. These daily lessons went on for a year or more until I no longer fit in the little desk that we used.
Dad was a very smart man, but his growing up years were difficult as the depression caused him to drop out of school and he had to earn money to help support his family by shining shoes on the street corner and peddling papers in Chicago. Any hopes of returning to school were squashed when the war broke out and he shipped off to Europe as a teenager. Perhaps not having a formal education is what made him value it so highly. His modeling of teaching and learning was a seed that he planted within me. Certainly there were mentors along the way that fertilized that seed and helped it to grow, but Dad is the one responsible for the very beginnings of me desiring to be a teacher. Thanks, Dad. I hope I have made you proud.