Written April 1980
Over break I had the privilege of visiting Jerry Yoder and Beth Ranck, two of my favorite high school teachers. They are planning a wedding for this summer. They are quick to admit that their salaries will keep them from having an elaborate wedding or in starting a family immediately. But they also admit that they really enjoy teaching and that the rewards exceed the disappointments.
Talking to them as friends in a home situation helped me to see them as individuals instead of disciplinary teachers. Seeing them as individuals and not as permanent fixtures forced me to relate their life to my own.
After talking with them I felt like teaching was a realistic option for me. Beth majored in English at college with the same interest in drama as I have. She uses this acting talent through teaching in drama classes and by directing plays.
My interests in English have always centered around drama, but yet I have no desire to become a professional actress. So, how do I use this talent? Well, it makes sense to say that I could teach English and direct high school plays. Miss Ranck seems to feel fulfilled by this. But although it appeals to me, I would rather be acting myself than trying to make students understand how it should be done.
Both Jerry and Beth talk about their relationships with students and how this is what makes teaching worthwhile. “If it weren’t for the kids, I wouldn’t be teaching!” admits Jerry. They talked about the challenges of reaching students that are hard to handle or refuse to listen.
This appeals to me because I would love relating to kids and trying to help them—at least as much as my high school teachers helped me. I remember how I appreciated a listening ear that was unprejudiced of the situation. I usually talked to my mom, but when I began having problems with my parents, I really needed the advice of an adult. My teachers listened patiently, gradually directing me in the right direction, but letting me think I had made the decision. I was lucky to be able to talk to Christian teachers that were far enough removed, to know better yet close enough to understand. If I could provide this kind of encouragement and guidance, teaching would make me feel like I was really helping someone and part of a worthwhile occupation. But would I be satisfied?
“Teaching is different every year because each year you have a new bunch of kids to work with. This way you don’t get tired of the job near as fast as you would otherwise.”
This probably would add variety, but would I eventually become calloused to the needs of my students as the age difference widens? I have to admit, the yearly three month vacation is appealing. I just don’t know if I could see teaching the rest of my life. To this Jerry said, “Just take one day, one year at a time, Bev. I have to reevaluate each year whether I want to teach, but somehow as the year begins anew (with new faces) the challenge of teaching comes alive again.”
As you can imagine, they both strongly recommended I continue thinking about teaching and assured me that I would be a great teacher.
Although my reservations about teaching still remain, it was good to discuss my fears and to hear their encouraging words. I could easily see that teaching fulfills them and hope to someday feel that same self-fulfillment myself.