Recently at the BC School Trustees Association, I was listening to Larry Rosenstock from High Tech High talk about the moment he knew he wanted to be a teacher. It was a very interesting thing to reflect on and try to pinpoint the time I really knew I wanted to be a teacher.
I do think we all have these moments.
For me it was when I was about ten years old. I can remember being backstage after the showing of Wizard of Oz by the students at Killarney Secondary School in Vancouver. My dad (and for a time my mom) spent a long career teaching at Killarney and for many of those years he produced the annual school musical. From a very young age I remember going to Fiddler on the Roof, Grease, Oklahoma!, Sound of Music among others. When you are in a family with two parents as teachers going to the high school is a big family night out.
The Wizard of Oz and getting to go backstage stands out. I remember the amazing joy and happiness from all of those involved in the production. I can clearly remember getting to meet all of the actors and being in awe as if I was on a Hollywood movie set, and I remember them interacting with my dad. There was such excitement. And not only did I want to meet the actors, they wanted to meet me; I was Mr. Kennedy’s son. I knew then I wanted to be a teacher. Until that point what my parents did was quite obscure for me. Even though I went to school everyday, I don’t think I really knew what a teacher did. I learned that day that teaching was something really special. Teaching was about making connections. Teaching was about making things come to life. Teaching was about being on a team.
It is interesting that as soon as Larry Rosenstock had us think about when we knew we wanted to be a teacher, this moment, one I hadn’t really thought of in more than three decades immediately came back to me.
While I kicked the tires on other career options in high school and even into university I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a teacher. And while some think a child of teachers is born into the job, it wasn’t that for me. It was seeing the amazing joy that comes from the work in schools. I am sure this Wizard of Oz moment and others like it are why I still advocate so loudly for strong arts and athletic programs and other options outside the classroom that round-out the school life.
I am sure I am not alone in having a moment I knew I wanted to teach – so what is yours?