Who Becomes a Teacher?

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about who becomes a teacher. When I think of my teaching colleagues throughout my career, I see a lot of people (myself included) who were “good at school.” But some of the best teachers I’ve known are people for whom school was a struggle–for any number of reasons. These teachers connect with students in a much different way, and look at curriculum through a much different lens. And students can tell.

Does it make sense to have teachers teach subjects (math, English, history, etc.) that they had a natural affinity for? I taught English in part because I loved reading and discussing literature–but that passion for literature did not give me a lot of common ground with students who found the study of literature. . . pointless. Would they have been better served by a teacher who could empathize with that point of view? Who maybe had not connected with literature in high school but had very consciously developed the skills and interests needed to be a critical reader?

How do we encourage students who struggled in school to become teachers–the kind of teachers who can empathize with and support the kind of students they once were?



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