When I was a little girl...I didn't play with dolls...nor did I play "house" or "doctor" or "dress-up."
I played "teacher."
As far back as I can remember, I was pretending to be the "teacher" ...and I would set up elaborate pretend classrooms, with pretend students, in my bedroom...where I would instruct and mold and educate for hours on end. I even went so far as to have pretend grade cards... and pretend parent/teacher conferences...and pretend lesson plans.
It was awesome.
When I went to college, it was a no-brainer that I would pursue my love of teaching, and I graduated with a degree in secondary education, preferring to work with the older students, rather than the elementary kids - but I really loved them all. However - a funny thing happened after graduation...I was engaged to be married, money was tight - and I took a job at a local hospital to make some quick bucks, rather than pursue a job teaching. The hospital paid extremely well, the benefits were outstanding...and before I knew it, I was trapped in the "Golden Handcuffs" - locked into a job that I didn't really enjoy, but paid so well I would be a fool to leave.
Years went by...and soon, the hospital job morphed into one where I was intermittently teaching...teaching hospital employees the computer software that we were using at the time. Being in a classroom...with real students...was second-nature to me, and invariably, after a computer class, a student would walk up and say, "That was great. You should have been a teacher."
And I would laugh and say, "You know...it's funny you would say that...."
Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, was an eye-opener for me, in that it caused me to do some soul-searching...I not only signed up as a volunteer with the American Red Cross, but I told the hospital I was going to quit, so that I could pursue my love of teaching...only THIS time, I would work as a substitute teacher in our local school district. I remember the first day I reported to the classroom to sub...I was a nervous wreck, and wondered if I'd made a huge mistake...but the minute the bell rang, and I was up front - instructing and molding and educating - I was in my element, and I was happy. I loved it.
My role at the American Red Cross soon expanded, as well...when I began teaching some of the training classes to new volunteers...I also began going out into the community, where I would teach Disaster education...to school groups, businesses, organizations, and colleges.
I loved it.
Last night, I had a class of nine brand-new volunteers with the ARC that I was teaching...and it was one of those moments when you feel like a Rock Star. Everything clicked - everything worked - and it was awesome. And after class, a gentleman came up and said that my passion had shone through as I taught, and it was clear to see that I love what I do.
And I do. I love what I do.
It always comes back to teaching...taking words (and I love words, actually - whether in the written form, with writing - or in the verbal form, with storytelling) and making those words come alive for my students...painting pictures with those words so that what I'm trying to convey shines through...
I always know I'm successful when I see the "I GET it!" look on the students' faces...I love that look. That's what teachers strive for. That look...of when a student comprehends and understands and learns. It's a look of mastery...of confidence...of wonder.
That's when I know I've made a difference...and it's a good thing.
Last night, nine new volunteers all had that "I GET it! It makes SENSE!" look...and it was awesome. By helping them master the subject material...by helping them succeed...by helping them walk out of that classroom with confidence...I was blessed.