I kind of stumbled into teaching.
I started teaching private English lessons when I first arrived in Italy because I needed money to do things like eat and pay rent…but it was just temporary.
Then I started teaching English at companies to businessmen…but just because it was more secure pay than private lessons.
Until I somehow agreed to teach English part-time in an elementary school. I had been in Italy for seven months, didn’t know what I wanted to do, didn’t want a full time job (aka traditional hours) and knew that I like children.
It was only after I started that I realized that I had been called to teaching in some form for much longer. When I was 16 I started by teaching swim lessons to children and adults at the YMCA. I had swim team practice there, was a strong swimmer and it was close to home. It was just a high-school job, but still to this day I consider it one of my best. I loved working with the kids, having a job that allowed me to move and the satisfaction of finally seeing them swim.
In college I worked in the Office of Education Abroad, advising students on their study abroad trips; Where to go, what to do, how to choose and how to pay. I had just come back from the time of my life in Florence and it was all I could think about. It was close, about travel and I could do my homework in between appointments. I didn’t think anything of it, but I liked that I could help them out with something I was so passionate about and genuinely excited when they finally committed to go abroad.
The mom of an old boyfriend used to tell me she thought I should be a teacher. I was still looking at colleges but had basically decided on journalism and I had no idea why she said that. She had never seen me teach and I had never expressed a desire to, so I just chalked it up to the fact that she was a teacher and nothing else. I remembered her insistence when, over five years since that conversation, I came to Italy and started teaching.
I was hired on a Wednesday and started that Monday. The 10 hours jumped to 12 in the first day and by the end of the week I was at 15. Now I rush home to plan lessons during lunch before heading out to teach private lessons until late evening. I’ve turned down movie night more than once because I was hours deep into lesson plan research. I’ve had high school teachers praising me for “joining the club!” and I realize, I guess I really am a teacher.
Sometimes you plan to do something your entire life, then you get out into the real world and realize that seemingly insignificant things, like not having to commute or having flexible hours, are more important to you than actually working in your planned field.
It can’t all be planned – the important part is realizing that. How many people don’t work in the field they prepared for? Think of the traveler attitude, the put-together-enough person who accepts changes because they are inevitable, because travel plans, like life plans, go awry.
I don’t know if it’s what I’ll do forever. I don’t know if I want to do it forever. I do know that I’m doing it now, and that I care.
Every time I’m able to explain a new concept, I’m as satisfied as if I had understood it myself. Every time a lesson plan falls through, though the kids have no idea that lessons are even planned, I feel guilt for letting them down. Finding the right language to use so that the children will understand, going through crazy gestures and scenes to get your point across with no thought of embarrassment, fighting the ever constant mini-crisis that 7 year olds seem to so often have – it’s exhausting, and more than satisfying.
What did you plan, in travel or life, that went awry?