I am often asked why I became a teacher.
This is never an easy question to answer. There are so many reasons behind my decision to enter this noble profession. I get so much from my job: I am always learning, I am surrounded by other great professionals, and no two days are ever the same.
While I was growing up, I went through a variety of ‘job phases’: doctor, lawyer, architect, astronaut, priest, teacher. I had no idea that I would eventually settle into one of those roles, but, it wasn’t until I was studying that I had two epiphanies that really solidified my desire to teach.
Epiphany the first: While I was completing my Bachelor of Arts, we had a unit that basically translated into ‘compulsory volunteering.’ Essentially, this meant that if you didn’t complete 120 hours of volunteer work, you wouldn’t get your degree. So, I began volunteering as a teacher’s aide at a school for students with special needs. I was stationed with the Kindergarten class, and tried to help them as much as possible: helping the children with lunch, playing my guitar for them, and I even dressing up as Santa for them so they can take photos. Once my obligatory 120 hours were finished, I made the decision to continue to return during my days off from university.
This experience really opened my eyes to the remarkable work that special education teachers do, and really helped me be further steered towards teaching as my vocational calling. When I eventually left, the classroom teacher I was shadowing presented me with a poster titled ‘Thank You Marco’ along with photos of myself and the children engaging in activities like sing-alongs, and jumping in a ball pit. This poster now sits proudly on the wall in my study, inspiring me every day to be the best educator I can be.
Epiphany the second: During the first block of practical visits I was involved in during my Graduate Diploma of Education, I had the privilege of sitting in with my supervising teacher during the parent-teacher interviews. Within context, this experience was even stronger for me because I was a former student of the school. About mid-way through the interviews, a man appeared with his son, who, to put it poetically, seemed straight out of Kenny Rogers’ Lucille (‘His big hands were calloused, he looked like a mountain’). He sat down in front of us, wiped his black, greasy hands onto his mechanic’s tunic and shook both of our hands.
The following moment is forever seared into my memory, never to be forgotten, and eternally there to inspire me to be the best educator I can be: at the moment we told him that his son had topped his class, he broke into tears and said in broken English, ‘I have worked 2 jobs for the last 5 years to make sure he doesn’t end up like me: breaking his back to make sure his kids can have the best life.’ That is when the totality of my decision to become a teacher really hit me: This is exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The rest of my life is to be dedicated to changing the live’s of others. After all, even if I only change the life of one child, then it’ll all be worth it.
This is why I became a teacher.