Twice a year I get invited to present to a classroom full of future educators. I get to visit during their high school teacher week; a panel of history, CTE, language, special education teachers, and me. In a college class full of would-be teachers, some are trying to figure out if their place is in a classroom, while others are trying to decide what type of classroom is going to be the best fit in just a few short years. They are all bright eyed and excited for the future.
I love getting invited to speak about all the reasons I love my job. It is so energizing to present your best teacher self to the world, and even after a bad day of teaching, I leave that panel feeling excited to get back in my room and do it all again the next day.
One of the big concerns from future high school teachers is how do I set myself apart from my students, even if I am only a few years older than them. We talked about dressing professionally to set yourself apart from your students and knowing that you are the adult in the room (even if you don’t always feel like it). One of my colleagues brought up the importance of setting boundaries in your classroom and having honest communication when students start getting too friendly.
The one thing these future teachers certainly don’t lack is passion. I had students who were excited to start planning curriculum and wanted to talk about why I teach what I teach. Students asked how we engage all of our students, even the one who don’t always want to be in our classes. I had a student who came up to me individually trying to decide between subjects and wanting to know how I knew I loved English and wasn’t just really good at it. Those are some hard hitting questions from freshman and sophomores in college.
Finally, I get to talk about things I was never prepared for by my own college education classes: advocacy. As a teacher in Arizona, I know the importance of being an advocate for school funding. If we are going to send teachers out into classroom around this state, we need to show them the reality of the current educational climate. We need to encourage and inspire future teachers to fight for the funding that students and teachers in this state deserve.
Teaching future teachers might not be something we ever thought about when joining this profession. But between practicum students, student teachers and even students in our own classes, part of all our jobs is always going to be working with future educators. It is our job to inspire the next generation to join our profession. It is also our responsibility to prepare them for the reality of the current educational system.
As a teacher in Arizona, I always think about what the future of education looks like. When I walk into those college courses, I am also reminded that it continues to be in good hands.
Photo by Stanley Morales