Thinking about my plans for my future is probably more stressful than taking a final exam. But this class is ending the way it has gone all along – instead of letting my do my typical studying and test taking that I’ve learned to do so well, it has made me think. My plans for the future are to teach but that could mean anything from being at the front of a traditional classroom to something hugely different that I haven’t come across quite yet. I’ve tossed around the idea of being a teacher throughout high school and probably before, but it wasn’t solidified until I came to Carolina. It wasn’t until I left the environment of small classes and close teacher-student relationships and got to the competitive, real world kind of college environment that I decided I didn’t want to the leave the education system after all. My decision to teach, however, was not met by the same encouragement from my school that I expected it would be. I was told recently after my decision that there would no longer be an education major at UNC and that if I wanted to become a certified teacher, I could apply later on to spend a year in the MAT program. This news made me question why I wanted to teach, what it would take to get there, and even if the door was closed to teaching altogether. I was told to simply “major in what I like” but how could I do that if I was passionate about teaching? Of course, I quickly applied to the minor and soon after getting in, enrolled in the Politics of Reading, which taught me so much about being a teacher, but in ways I never expected.
I want to be a teacher because I love learning and tests stress me out. I love people and making them feel happy and cared about. I love seeing people accomplish new things and helping them grow. I basically had a fantasized view of teaching without thinking about all of the politics teachers have to get through to do what they love. This course was basically a big devil’s advocate in my thought process. Now I am thinking about having to follow a script for what I teach my class. I’m thinking about having to spend more time preparing them for a test than preparing them to be educated people or think critically about things. I’m also thinking that I could be assessed only on these tests. Sometimes this class made me think – is this all worth it? Looking back on this class in relation to my future, I realize that the answer to that question was always yes, and all of these things that we’ve been learning made me all the more motivated and excited to teach because I realize that students need genuine teachers who are willing to push through the politics. I’m so grateful to this course for making me realize what teachers go through and what restrictions they are under. I know that when I graduate, I will have a firmer understanding of what is actually behind all of these policies, and will hopefully be better prepared to teach and be impactful despite them.
The significant question that the course has left me with, is how deeply are these policies actually embedded into the classroom. When I’m talking to and observing teachers, this class has given me a more realistic lens through which I see their job. Instead of just looking at teaching with the sugar coated view that I always used to, I want to actually follow these policies and find out how they are playing out in real schools like the ones I will hopefully be teaching in someday. I’m excited to talk to teachers and ask about their experiences with the policies we’ve studied in this course and learn from their experience. The Politics of Reading basically gave me a dose of reality, all the while still keeping me excited to teach.