"How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?"
These are words we have all heard (most likely more times than we can count on our hands). Like you, I have been asked this question at PD sessions, conferences, staff orientations, and in casual conversation, but it is one I finally came to terms answering once I hit a decade of being an educator.
Year 10 did not bring about a new level of enlightenment or expertise, it simply took me 10 years to come to terms with the reality of how I became an educator, because I feared how people would react when they found out education chose me first.
My journey as an educator looks quite different from most whom I have come into contact with.
Like most things in life there is societal expectations of the sequence in which progressions in life occur. For example: you graduate high school, go to university, get a job, get married, and have kids.
The same could be said for becoming an educator: go to university, complete a teacher preparation program, train under an experienced educator, apply for a job.
However, we know this is not how life works as there is no such thing as normal (as much a society would like to claim there is), but it doesn't mean we still don't expect sequential orders. I would even go as far to claim it throws most individuals temporarily off balance when the sequence is jumbled, broken, or ignored.
So as you might have guessed, I jumbled up the sequence for becoming an educator.
More than a decade ago a private school principal approached me knowing his school had need for my expertise in graphic design, communication, and advertising. A part-time teaching, part-time graphic design position followed. I had no teaching experience and at the time no teaching credential. I never saw education in my future. I envisioned myself becoming a corporate graphic designer or an Art Director, not an educator.
And this is why I say that education chose me first.
Education chose me first by placing a principal in my life who took a risk on a an individual without teaching experience, but a wealth of knowledge in her subject area.
Education chose me when it placed strong mentors in my life without me being aware at the time.
Education chose me by slowly easing me into more courses at the school as my years as an educator increased.
Education chose me by allowing my ego to realise it is okay for students to teach me, I do not have to have all the answers.
Education chose me when I realised my students want authenticity not artificiality, I thought and still think this is one of the coolest traits of Generation Z.
Education chose me when it slowly softened my heart to young people and revealed to me how incredible life is when I get to interact with amazing people every day.
Education chose me when it taught me the value and impact an educator has in a young persons life.
Education chose me when I excitedly said "yes" to getting my certification, and when it provided me the perseverance to succeed.
Education chose me when I said "yes" to going back to school to get my masters degree because I desired for the assurance that my students were getting the best education possible.
Education chose me when it would wake me up excited to go to work every day. Spoiler Alert: I still get excited to go to work every day, though I might consume a bit more caffeine than I used to.
In return I chose to reciprocate my love back to education not simply because I love learning, because I could do that anywhere and any time.
I chose education for the students, for the future, to empower young people to believe in themselves and others, and because I want to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.
I could have never envisioned this amazing life as an educator, because that is what it is, amazing, indescribable, and an adventure.
I am lucky education chose me first, because I would be missing it, even if I didn't know I needed it.