Essay in THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2018;
(cited in BAE 2015, 2016); PUSHCART poetry finalist

The Undergrad Writer: Oh, So You Want to be a Teacher?

wonka1Being an English major combines many of the things in life that I enjoy deep down to my core: I love reading, which is nice because most of my assignments are lengthy portions of text. I love writing, both creatively and academically, so hunkering down to bang out an eight-page paper, if I have enough time, is not a burden, but  an adventure. I love learning, so researching for papers and assignments is my favorite part. And because I love learning, I love workshops. Well, I’ve grown to love them, as mentioned in my previous blog post. I realize constructive criticism will only improve my writing, and therefore I welcome it with ready ears.

There are a few aspects of working towards an English degree that aren’t as wonderful (how heavy my backpack can be on any given day is one of them), but there is a single factor that stands out as the worst part.

Oh, so you want to be a teacher?

Nine times out of ten, this is the response I receive when I mention I’m an English major.

I want to emphasize that being a teacher isn’t a profession I devalue. I love and admire the work of teachers. The absurdity comes with thinking of me as a teacher. Patience is a trait I admit I need more of, and therefore, managing classrooms full of young children is not an environment where I see myself thriving.

When I am approached with the teacher assumption, I deny the temptation to roll my eyes as if to say, “Don’t you know whom you are talking to?” and then the desire to defend myself kicks in.

“Nope, I want to do something in the book publishing industry.”

This usually elicits an, “Oh! Cool!” and it’s over.

Or many times I go right ahead and give a little credit to teachers across the world with an exuberant: “Oh gosh, no. Never. I could never be a teacher.”

This is a fact.

I could never be a teacher, as mentioned previously.

My roommate is currently working towards a degree in Special Education at a specialized college where their mission statement reads: “to improve the lives of children and families.”

I see and hear about what she does everyday, and although I admire her, I cringe.

Don’t get me wrong: I love children. Sometimes I think that maybe I could thrive with a classroom full of jubilant children, reading fun books to them, teaching them long division, making fun crafts during the holidays…

But when I come back down from my daydream, I’m back to being an unapologetic realist who knows her limits. I used to be a caretaker of three elementary-age children, and while I really enjoyed it, I traded that in for a work-study job at my college within the year.

Basically when we get down to the details, I can’t deny my life-long dream of a desk-job. I’m a career woman. Or at least I want to be.

Who knows where I’ll be five years from now, ten years, or even fifty. I only discovered my desire to work in book publishing within the past two years, and I’m well-aware of the statistic about the average American changing their career multiple times throughout their lifetime. But this is my starting point, and I’m excited about it.

I want to end giving a virtual round of applause to teachers everywhere. And when that’s over, I will go back to fantasizing about how I will decorate my future office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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