January 22, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 62  

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Teaching (& learning) your ABCs

I want to be a teacher.

This seems to come as a surprise to many of those who think I’m planning a career in the wilds of journalism, but there’s something about being a teacher that’s always appealed to me. I admit, summers off, March Break and Christmas holidays are a bonus, but the rewarding aspects of this career are what really sucked me in.

Consequently, ever since high school I’ve been making an effort to volunteer in different capacities to gain experience — from teaching piano to planning educational programming at a museum; I’ve done it all. Starting this past fall, however, I stepped into a Grade 7 classroom as a teacher’s assistant for the first time.

Wow. Not only had I completely forgotten what it was like to be in the seventh grade, but being in the midst of professors and TAs, I had lost all realization of the simple fact that school teachers work hard to prepare for their full days of classes. Really hard.

With classrooms averaging 30 or so students, and the need to plan sports, field trips, concerts (etc., etc., etc.), it amazes me that teachers can actually accomplish what they need to in a day. I volunteer one day a week, and aside from spending time helping individual students, I do mass quantities of photocopying, changing art projects on cork boards and other small tasks that would otherwise add hours onto every teacher’s day.

Yes, I admit, these things can seem tedious for people with lofty ideals of saving the lives of their students à la Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

Why, you ask? Because even if I’m absolutely exhausted from writing essays or studying for midterms, these kids never fail to make that one day of my week the best one by far. They’re energetic and hardworking, they talk about what sports teams they cheer for or what birthday parties they are going to with their friends — but most of all, they make me laugh. And frankly, everyone can use a good laugh.

Obviously, I love this type of work or I wouldn’t want to be a teacher, but I started volunteering specifically to get in-class experience for my teacher’s college applications. Not only am I gaining valuable experience, which will benefit me immensely in my future career, but I’m having a great time along the way.
Even if you don’t want a career in teaching, I can’t say enough about how much I love going into that classroom every week. It always makes me smile.



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