A letter to my future high school teacher self, from the hopeful college aged you.

Dear Future Mrs. Scherer (Wonder Woman),

When you are in your 15th year of teaching, and you are growing tired of the repetitive days, rowdy students, critical parents, and boring curriculum, please remember why you went into this profession. Remember the words of Julie Williams, “[You] feel effusively alive when [you are] faced with the challenge of creating new understanding in the minds of students. ” (Williams 1). If one day you grow tired of finding ways to instill your students with genuine interest in learning please do not do what so many teachers do, teach the minimum. Remember that students need to learn more than what is required to do well on tests. More than what is written in the curriculum. Simply regurgitating information is not an education. Berliner and Glass point out that “training in STEM… may serve the labor markets but it is doubtful that it prepares children for a full and satisfying life.” (Berliner 6). Follow the lead of the teachers that inspired you to teach. The ones that taught you not only about science and grammar, but also about life, and the importance of knowledge, experience, and passion. Please remember the fire that your teachers once ignited in you, and strive every day to light that same fire in others.

If and/or when you become frustrated with the pressure to improve your students standardized test scores remember what you read in Finnish Lessons, “evidence suggests that teachers tend to redesign their teaching according to these tests, … and adjust teaching methods to drilling and memorizing information rather than understanding knowledge.” (Sahlberg 67). If you, like so many other teachers, adjust what and how you teach merely to see better results on these tests, your students will suffer. Stop allowing the pressure of improving test results to sacrifice the greater education of students. Please hold yourself to a higher expectation than the bare minimum. Each of the three books you read in EDUC 1101 point out failure of standardized testing to actually test what it means to have a good education; what it means to have a well rounded array of knowledge.

If we as teachers give students a passion of learning itself and a desire to understand, we will set them up for a lifetime of education, rather than 4 years of learning how to temporarily memorize and repeat seemingly useless information that will soon be forgotten.

Being a teacher is a very difficult career, because you didn’t just choose to be a teacher, you chose to be Wonder Woman. Show the student that no one expects to graduate, that you hold her to a higher expectation, push yourself to catch the interest of the boy in the back of the room not paying attention. Don’t let students slip through the cracks and merely go through the motions of the day. Remember that superman is not coming to save the day and change education. You chose to be a teacher because you wanted to make a difference in peoples lives. Don’t wait for someone else to be the change you want to see, because that is why schools are failing. Educators are sitting around waiting for someone else to waltz in and change the way things are done, because that’s easier than actually putting in an effort and going to battle for their student’s education every time they get an F on a test. Don’t forget that you have to show the kids your passion and genuine care for them to learn. Don’t become another teacher that kicks back and watches kids grow up through a broken system.

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My Tail.

Having lived nowhere else but the small town of Milaca, Mn I have fallen into the rut

of expectations. I know what to expect at the store, at church, at school. However, in as little as the first week of my senior year I was thrown off quite a bit. In a small town school students don’t get away with breaking unspoken social rules without the entire student body hearing about it by lunch period, and if they do bravely wander into uncharted territory those bold choices come with an extreme amount of teasing. To my surprise this year I saw not one, but two girls wearing bushy fox tails to class. My peers wore those unruly tails to school even though they knew they would be teased. They made one very large fashion statement, and they made it holding their head high. That is what I want.

No, I don’t want to wear a tail; the fluffy extremities are far from my idea of taste, and I have confidence in my personal style. I just want to make a statement in the way I live. I consider myself a fairly well rounded person, but I don’t have my thing. My tail if you will. I’m not a ridiculously talented singer, and I’m not beauty pageant beautiful. I’m smart, but I’m not ingenious, and I’m athletic, but I’m not Olympic worthy. It’s not that I don’t give 100% every time I jump into the pool, step onto the field, or begin a test, it’s just that I haven’t found my niche. I haven’t found a place that I am clearly meant to be.

Every day I see people with confidence in their futures that I envy, and spending the next ten years of my life bewildered by where exactly I fit is an extremely terrifying idea to me. Impacting the outcome of students lives. Students that will go on to do great things that could change the world is what I dream of. I want to be an exceptional teacher, coach leader, and mentor, but achieving that goal is far from near. Years of hard-work, dedication, and even some ambivalence will lead me to the unshakeable confidence in my field that I so badly yearn for right now. I am looking for a certain answer in an unpredictable future.

I don’t want to be a nonconformist. I don’t dream of becoming the class valedictorian. I don’t want to think about what I want to do, or who I want to be. I want to know. I want to feel it with every muscle in my body, and every neuron in my brain. I want to wake in the mornings, get dressed and put on my tail. I imagine myself walking across a campus and making a statement. Walking back into a school as a teacher, and know that I will own my job. I want people to look at me and believe that I am one of those people who knows what they are destined for. One day I will stand tall on my pedestal.

I wrote this at the begging of my senior year of high school (and edited it now). That was almost three years ago. At the time I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I have now been through almost two years of college at two different universities, changed my major, and become more and more confident that I am walking towards my destiny every day. 

Sure, there have been days when I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. There are days when I hate my classes, and my current job working at an elementary school. But the moment that a light goes off in a kids eyes makes it all worth it, and more. The moment when I know I am making a difference in someones life, and lighting a spark of interest in in school for a teenager, that makes it worth every hard test, every late night studying, every assignment.