I sat in front of my college counselor, knowing in my head that I needed to get to the bottom of my struggles in order to become a teacher, but feeling in my heart the numbness brought on by shedding countless tears of failure and looming defeat. I was in my last semester of my education, student teaching, and I felt like I was in the wrong profession.
For the first three years after high school, I had no focus on what I wanted to do. I went to two colleges before finally settling in at a small Christian university. I had considered teaching, but knew that teachers had long hours, didn’t get paid much, and had the huge responsibility of forming young peoples’ minds. Frankly, I didn’t feel up to that much intensity.
During one summer, I finally decided to take the frightening leap into the unknown abyss of elementary education. As I went back to school, I was filled with trepidation, but felt God’s guidance through the processes I had followed to choose to become a teacher. I felt my thoughts focusing, my confidence in my teaching abilities begin to grow, and my call to become a teacher confirmed.
Before I knew it, my junior year had begun. My first semester teaching language arts was truly enjoyable because I was in my element, always having enjoyed the written word. The next semester included my weaker subjects of math and science.
Second semester was extremely challenging, a nightmare, summed up at the end of junior year with a review board of all the university educational staff analyzing my work.
My second semester professor actually said, “Kristina, you have really struggled in your work this semester. I really can’t see you being successful as a teacher…are you certain that this is the profession that you want to focus on?”
I was crushed, especially after I had finally felt like I had found my niche, my place where God would bless my work!
My eyes bright with tears, I said, “I know God wants me to finish the work I began here, and I deserve to finish student teaching next semester.”
The professors reluctantly gave me forms needed for student teaching.
I had near panic attacks throughout the summer following the ghastly educational review. When I began student teaching in the fall, I was frozen in fear of imminent failure. Finally, halfway through my student teaching, I decided I hated teaching, and called my observing professor up to tell her I was going to quit. She suggested I speak with a counselor, before making my final decision.
In desperation, I went to a university counselor who I trusted and unloaded the hurt, fears and depression I was feeling. I explained how every morning when I woke up, I felt ill and my fiancé was subjected to my daily tears.
I ended my monotone recital with a catch in my voice as I said, “I just don’t understand that if God guided me to this place, and told me that He wanted me to become a teacher, why do I hate it so much, and why am I so miserable?”
I will never forget the counselor sitting straight up in her chair, looking me squarely in the eye, and saying, “God told you to become a teacher?”
Surprised by her intensity, I fairly stuttered out, “Yes, I believed so, but now I’m not so sure.”
She retorted, “Well, then, there it is. You heard God. He wants you to become a teacher, and therefore you will not give in when you are so close to the finish line. It’s a matter of fulfilling God’s purpose in your life.”
That was the turning point. It was a difficult road, but I had renewed purpose. I finished student teaching and became a certified teacher.
Although teaching can be an intense experience, it is also an experience of joy, rediscovering childhood wonders and recalling what others need to hear to build their confidence in their abilities.
Whenever the struggles I am currently having threaten to overwhelm me, and the defining lines around the edges of my dreams have become only a blurred remembrance, I look back to my student teaching experience for inspiration. Inspiration that reminds to be patient with myself, keep looking to God for guidance, and rely on a faithful Christian support group to remind you of your aspirations when you have forgotten your dreams.
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