Recently a dear friend and I were having a conversation about why I became a teacher. We’ve only been friends for a little over a year and I realized she didn’t know my whole story. She hadn’t seen me be an AVID tutor in East San Jose or a student teacher in Compton. Since launching CollaboratEd in 2018 I've met so many new people and grown my network exponentially. This conversation with my friend made me realize that many of you, my new colleagues, may not know my story - may not know my why.
My why behind becoming an educator is to help struggling high school students graduate from high school and have the opportunity to go to college.
I had a comfortable childhood. Both of my parents when to college and have advanced degrees, yet they hired a college tutor to help me navigate the college application process. After graduating from college, I got to thinking, if my very well educated parents felt the need to hire extra help, what about the high school students with parents who didn’t go to college or didn’t grow up in the US education system or maybe even speak English? How will they navigate and advocate for their children? I became a volunteer tutor for the AVID program in a low income neighborhood of East San Jose, California and I loved it. I loved the mission of AVID, I loved working with students, I loved helping first generation students get to college, and I found myself enjoying helping students with their math homework most during tutorial.
But a math teacher? I was a psychology major. My math tutor in 4th grade actually told me I was “stupid.” But once I discovered that Algebra is considered the “gatekeeper” course, I knew it was where I belonged. If I wanted to live out my why and help struggling students graduate and get to college, a math teacher is exactly what I needed to be.
Now, as a math intervention specialist, I live out my why a little differently. Now I impact the teachers who impact the kids who are my why. Now I do my best to help every teacher I coach or see in a workshop feel empowered and able to reach those struggling students more effectively. My why continues to ground my work as an educator even though I’m no longer in the classroom daily.
So what is your why? Why did you enter the field of education? How do you live out that why each day in your current duties? Do your students or staff know your why? Perhaps it would be helpful to share it with them!