Only become a teacher if you are passionate, dedicated to students

Abigail Kruse and Abigail Kruse

As the end of another school year approaches and I get one step closer to finally graduating, I count my blessings that not one person has asked what on earth I plan on doing with my education degree.

No, where I run into raised eyebrows and snickers is when I tell people I want to teach middle school. Typically the comments fall into one of three categories: the horrified, “Dear God, why? They’re such brats.”; the concerned, “Good luck, you’ll need it.”; and my personal favorite, the delighted, “Great! We need more good teachers.”

I pay the most attention to that last one, because I agree. I also definitely agree that I will need some luck. I forgot about the fourth category, comments like, “I could never be a teacher.” I usually reply with something along the lines of, “Excellent, then please do not.”

It sounds harsh out of context, but I promise I say it with a smile, as well as a lot of conviction, because I truly believe that. There are already too many teachers out there who do not absolutely love what they do and it is not fair to anybody, least of all the students.

There’s a scene in “Sister Act 2” when Whoopi Goldberg is trying to talk some sense into Rita, her troubled but talented student with a little inspiration from “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Marie Rilke: “If you wake up in the mornin’ and you can’t think of anything but singin’ first, then you’re supposed to be a singer, girl.”

I would say the same for teachers. We need teachers who love what they do so much that they could not think about doing anything else.

Rumor has it one of the earliest courses that an education major takes is used as a “determiner,” one that lets professors see who is in it for the long haul, as around a third switch out of the Education program after or before completion of the course.

Whether or not that’s true, it wouldn’t surprise me and I think those people should be commended, first for the self-awareness to know that it’s not what they want to do, second for the caring to switch because of that knowledge even if they had been pressured into it and third for the smarts to do so before they are put back too far.

People call me crazy for wanting to teach middle school, but I take it as a compliment. After all, in order to consistently come up with new, effective ways to keep students engaged, you have to make a habit of thinking outside the box.

If you have anything less than a burning desire to spend your days forming the development of America’s youth – its future – from the kid with the obnoxious helicopter parents to the sweetest, most docile one to the one who fights you on everything, please do not pursue that career.

The work is too critical to accept anything less.