Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 10
Who was your favorite teacher? Someone lively? Hands-on? Or someone serious? Probably that teacher, whatever their traits, loved teaching you and your classmates, their students, and loved teaching their subject. Think about your own teaching…What is your teaching style? Do you like to teach one-on-one, but prefer not to do it in front of a classroom? Or do you like lecturing, but do not enjoy getting students up and moving around in group activities? There are different styles of teaching that work well with certain people, and it’s good to admit what type of teacher you are (it might be similar to the favorite type of teacher you liked while you were in school).
The direction my parents modeled for my siblings and I while they homeschooled us pointed us toward knowing how to be a Jack-of-all-trades verses being a specialist. This has had its disadvantages and advantages as I’ve entered and worked in the field of education.
I have several colleagues who found teaching jobs five years ago when we all got our teacher’s licenses, and they have taught at those schools ever since, but my homeschooling background didn’t set me up for doing that as easily. One disadvantage from my homeschooled upbringing is that I wasn’t used to the traditional school setting, so I didn’t already know how a teacher acts and functions besides college professors. Another disadvantage was that I hadn’t been groomed to become a specialist of one subject; I liked many subjects, so narrowing down and realizing that knowing one subject well is useful in the world of education took me time (so I’ve taken more time than most doing this).
My Mom trained as an elementary teacher, and her teaching influence trained me the most in how I viewed teachers. Elementary teachers have to be somewhat a “Jack-of-all-trades” teacher, and they need to enjoy kids, projects, and know how to parent a bit as well as teach the kids. I like to teach useful things that people can use in their everyday lives.
College professors were the next biggest influence on how I learned how to be a teacher. Professors get to lecture, give assignments, and they do come alongside students at times, but there’s a level of independence that is given to the student; it’s their choice if they sink or swim. I enjoy letting adults makes their choices, and if they want to come learn from me–wonderful! However, it is up to them.
I did not sign up to be a policewomen of a bunch of young people when I trained to be a teacher. The PreK-12th grade school system that is in the United States works to create lifelong learners, but if the older students were given more freedom to go after things that they loved (instead of most students being forced to be college-bound), the policing aspect of education could go down and the learning aspect go up.
Teaching junior high and high school students is doable for me, but my personality isn’t the kind that they just gravitate toward (my sister-in-law has that fun personality!), so I would attract the studious, shyer students…I tried teaching younger, preschool and elementary kids; I enjoyed the parenting aspect of those situations, but I didn’t want to do that long-term. After trying many teaching roles for the last five years, I’ve come back to what I wanted to do before I even thought of becoming a certified teacher: work in a college!
I would like to teach students if they want to learn, so that’s why it’s a relief to admit that I enjoy my present job of being an English tutor at a college writing center so much. The students have a choice of coming in to get tutoring! The subject and assignment changes with each student, so there’s variety, and it’s growing my own skills in English. I have found a good fit here at the college level. One of these days I’ll become a professor…
It’s a relief to admit what type of teaching you prefer. I did, and I’m much happier now.
By M. H. Campbell