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Becoming a teacher was a natural choice for me.
When I was a child, my siblings and I would play school. I was the teacher; my younger brother and sister were the students.
For some reason, they typically went along with this designation, probably because neither wanted to argue with their older sister, as they knew they couldn’t win.
We sat outside on the picnic table, and I gave them their assignments, which usually consisted of coloring and activity books. When my brother became tired of playing school or became mad at me for giving him too much homework, he would get up and leave and then maybe come back later after riding his bicycle, playing with the neighbor, taking things apart or engaging in other misadventures.
I enjoyed teaching in this outdoor classroom on the picnic table. I think this was the time when I decided to become a teacher.
I remember these early days, especially when a new semester is beginning. Those days are always exciting and full of anticipation. I love meeting new students each semester but also enjoy seeing returning students.
Every student has a story to tell. They have varying backgrounds, personalities, hopes and dreams.
Some want to teach elementary. Others want to teach middle or high school. Most want to move on to a four-year university to finish their teaching degrees.
However, some just want the satisfaction of receiving an associate’s degree, renewing their teaching license, taking a few courses for enjoyment or becoming a teacher’s assistant in a classroom.
I believe a teacher in the classroom is the most
important part of education, ensuring that a student reaches his or her goals. A teacher’s heart and mind work together to help a student who lacks confidence and academic skills. A teacher’s heart connects with students in a meaningful way to encourage them while a teacher’s mind helps students discover knowledge they want or need to be successful and content in life.
Occasionally I’ll meet students I had in a class when I taught K-12, and I ask how they are. However, I really want to ask them whether they reached their goals and are happy.
Educational theorists John Dewey and Charles Elliot believed the key to a successful society is personal satisfaction through their own journeys of knowledge.
Only when a person is satisfied can he or she contribute to society in a meaningful way. As teachers, we can help guide our students on their own journey of knowledge until they reach a point that they can guide themselves, are content and can contribute.
I still think about those times on our picnic table and how much fun it was to be a teacher.
Wait! I am a teacher!
It’s still a lot of fun.
Julie Bilz is chairwoman of the education program at Ivy Tech Community College–Columbus/Franklin.
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