Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I'm a teacher~
I'm a teacher.
This is how I answer the "What do you do?" question.
I chose this profession when I was in first grade-- in truth because I wanted to hold the soft, white chalk, and make those magical marks on the blackboard-- they really were black in those days.
I was fascinated with the tools of the trade: the elastics worn around the wrist, the pitch pipe that hit middle C before we sang My Country 'Tis of Thee, the playground whistle, the contraption that held five pieces of chalk and drew five parallel lines all at once. The stickers. The red pens. The bulky teacher manual teachers referred to while teaching.
Teachers had a vague sense of power. Never abused, but definitive. I wanted to please them, but I also wanted that strength of presence. I wanted to sit in their basement room and listen to what they said about us while we played at recess.
Except for a brief stage in fourth grade when I wanted to be a veterinarian, I never wavered from my goal. I commuted to the state teachers' college 18 miles away.
With my new teaching certificate, I got a job in my hometown, the same system that schooled me.
Thirty-four years later, I'm still there, although I've changed grade levels, subjects, and buildings many times. The light at the end of the corridor--retirement-- glows brighter.
As much as I've loved, still love, the profession I chose fifty years ago, I've had spells of wishing I'd challenged myself more. I'd make one heck of a lawyer-- ask my husband. I could have been a vet. I could have been most anything that didn't involve algebra.
But I became a teacher.
Today, the fifth day of the new school year was frustrating. I forget how "entry level" these new middle schoolers are, how unorganized, how needy, how young. I forget that they never have a pencil, that they forget their folders and their books, that they don't listen and then they ask me the very questions I've answered moments before.
Today as I get ready to leave school, two young ladies are waiting in the hall.
"Mrs. Douillette! Remember me?" says one. She hugs me. I do remember her. She was in my fifth grade math class. She's a junior in high school now. A beautiful girl with careful make up and jangling car keys.
She tells me what she's up to these days. We talk about the "good old days." She tells me she'd been looking for me, but had gone to my old classroom, the one she remembered.
"I wanted to see you. You are my favorite teacher," she said.
I became a teacher many years ago. I could have been most anything. But I am a teacher; I have no regrets.