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My Journey to Teaching

For anyone that is interested in teaching as a career or has thought about it but has never really given it a chance, today I’m writing about my rollercoaster of a journey to teaching and how I made one of the best decisions ever by choosing to become a teacher.

Being a Tutor

To start off my journey, I’ve been some sort of tutor or teaching aid for as long as I can remember. During middle school, my parents used to drop me off at my school’s “early academy” tutoring hours before they went to work, and it was there that I first started peer-tutoring. I used to love seeing the lightbulb go off when my fellow students would understand a concept that they were struggling with; so much so that I ended up continuing tutoring throughout the rest of my middle and high school career. It even became my first job as I became a center assistant at my local Kumon learning center. I wasn’t sure if I was just excited to be getting paid for the first time or if I was excited to be getting paid for something I enjoyed so much. I later realized it was the latter.

High School

I heard so many things about teaching over the years, like “Teachers don’t make money”, “Working with kids is so hard”, “Those who can’t do, teach”, etc. So as an impressionable high schooler just trying to figure out what to do in the future, teaching honestly didn’t seem very desirable.

So even though I loved being a tutor and helping my fellow students succeed, I didn’t put much thought into making a career out of it. Instead I followed a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) path during high school because I was good at those subjects, and if I could make it in that field, then I would be super successful. On that path I was encouraged to take all of the hardest AP science and math electives instead of the AP Social Studies electives because having high scores in Math and Science classes would make me more competitive when it came to applying to college. I didn’t know that if I did well enough, I could get college credits for any AP test I took, no matter the subject.

As a result, I ended up missing out on really cool courses like Psychology, Government, and Contemporary Studies, all subjects that interested me way more than Physics, and I ended up following the STEM path to college, where I applied as an engineering major.

Entering College as the Wrong Major

Entering college as an Engineering major was very wrong for me. I knew it from the beginning when I had little opportunity to talk about contemporary events, or to learn about things that interested me like education and social studies. I was deeply embedded in all STEM all the time, and I was miserable. I was told by everyone that the first year of engineering is always the hardest, you just have to get through that and you’ll be fine. So, fast forward to year two of engineering, and I was still really unhappy. I wasn’t doing poorly or struggling to understand the material, I truthfully just had no passion for it. And I learned that it is almost impossible to motivate yourself to do something you have no interest in doing.

I spent two years and a summer agonizing over whether or not to stick with engineering and “just get through it,” because I didn’t want to let anyone down, when really I was letting myself down that whole time. After one last attempt to push through my lack of interest and motivation, I entered my junior year as an engineering major again. Within that first week something clicked, and one day I just walked past the class I was supposed to go to, out of the building, and off of the campus that I was on. At that moment I knew I didn’t want to put myself through any more unhappiness when it came to my career, so I decided to change my major. 

With STEM still so ingrained in my head I tried to be a math major for a little bit, then a statistics major, and then finally I just took a bunch of different social studies classes so that I could try out different majors and finally decide what I wanted to do. I ended up choosing an interdisciplinary major, Latino and Caribbean Studies, where I could take history classes, anthropology classes, sociology classes, etc. It was perfect for me because since I never really had the first year experience of being undecided, this was a way that I could learn about a bunch of different careers while still earning my degree.

Teaching for the First Time

It wasn’t until my summer internship that year that I really allowed myself to reconsider teaching again as a career opportunity. I was still tutoring during college and doing education related jobs, but in my head the teacher stigma that I had heard about in high school still sort of stuck with me.

As I was looking for internships that summer, a friend told me about an internship called the Breakthrough Collaborative, where he got to be a teaching fellow and have real teaching experience for an entire summer. At that moment I thought, well this is my chance to rule out if I want to be a teacher or not. So I applied, got in, and had the most eye opening summer of my life. I learned so much about what it means to be a teacher, what it's like to be a teacher, and how many different things are involved in being a teacher. And by the end of those three months I was sold. 

After that summer I immediately applied to graduate education programs because I realized that as a teacher you are not only a teacher. You are a creative, you are a mentor, an event planner, a performer, an inventor, and so much more. I struggled so much to figure out my major and what I wanted to do in the future because I didn't want to limit myself, and in the end I realized that as a teacher I didn’t have to limit myself. I could be everything I wanted to be in one, and I have never been more passionate.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed learning about my journey to teaching, and if you like content like this please feel free to comment, subscribe and follow me on my social media @sabrinanjordan on pinterest and instagram.

Until next time!


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