Inspired to teach

Recently, I was asked to share how I became inspired to be a teacher? Here is my response.

I was inspired to become a teacher by my son Storm. When he was in grade school, he showed so much grit and determination as a learner in a very demanding gifted program. Each day he would come home to share the amazing things his class was learning at school, how they were encouraged to approach thinking/responding differently, and how he was allowed to research on his own time. I wondered whether education could be like that for students in all classrooms?

My own education (70s-80s) did not include inquiry time, or opportunity to study things of interest to me personally. I realized that by the year 2005, education may have changed. I thought, maybe it wasn’t about rote, robotic, regurgitations of dates, facts and banality? Perhaps, it could be something more for learners and there was a place for divergent thinking that was not followed by shunning or shouts of misbehaviour.

Over my career as a student, I’d developed a love/hate relationship with education. After being run out of university for a 3 year streak of solid Cs, it was clear that I may not be academically inclined. Armed with an I’ll show them attitude I set out to make my mark on the world without that “piece of paper” akin to a universal permission slip of potential. Like any former students without qualifications I sought my own paths to success? Along the way, I received a new type of education.Life.brain shared by Elbina Rizakhanova

Now back to my point. In 2007, I was reflecting on my past and current iterations as a realtor, radio DJ/newscaster, tie dye entrepreneur, and youth leader. In one week 4 or 5 people asked me if I had ever considered being a teacher. The weird part was that each one was from a different background. Hmm? It was time to consider whether/where I fit into education. I set about seeking further wisdom, and who better than Storm’s teachers. Each one of them, were women and men of great care and character. Each of whom I witnessed as pivotal forces in the life of my son, and in the lives of their learners.These amazing teachers impacted his academic life, world-view, and ultimately my decision to become a teacher too (with reasons too many to mention). I wanted to do that in the lives of others too.

In the Fall of 2007 I was welcomed back to the university that asked me to leave in 1987. I was going to become a teacher. The first thing I learnt was that only A students should bother applying because it is a very competitive program.

Despite my underwhelming GPA, I applied to every teacher’s college within driving distance (125 km) of my house, and received a perfect rejection record from all of them. The dream was ending much faster than it started. Yet somehow, I didn’t take the rejections as discouragement this time. I was in my 40s, in school full time, and working full time. Why not finish my BA anyway? My work ethic, age and experience were assets this time around. Oh! And a supportive wife, son, and a great deal of maturity too.

It is here that it all came together for me. I realized that my struggles, and journey to this point could be used to encourage and equip others in education. It was an understanding of my own humanity/failings as a learner that provided me a relationship point with other learners. On many levels I wish all teachers were able to work in a number of careers before they ever enter the classroom. I wonder if it had to happen this way in order for me to see the value of equipping and encouraging others. Or maybe it was witnessing unlimited potential gathering in one place to change the world, or a little corner of it? By the Winter term I was thinking about my Master’s Degree since there were no prospects for Faculty of Ed until next Fall. Then Tyndale University happened?

Tyndale was offering a brand new program  and was open to “experienced and diverse learners” as teacher candidates. All I had to do was apply, complete my BA, fund a second year of school and survive a 50 week program that equipped me with some of the most mind stretching learning a middle aged person can bear. Teaching became about developing safe inclusive learning spaces that are meant for students to be inspired and thrive. I wanted to make that come true for others and saw education as the most powerful way to impact/equip the future for good.

So Storm is in 2nd year university and still inspiring me. Living proof of the impact his education and teachers made on our lives. As a bonus I still get to see some of these influential educators never forgetting how they inspired me to become a teacher.

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