Choices

A couple of years ago, my social studies department head asked if I would be interested in representing our school and department at the school district’s annual job fair. I work in a large, well respected district. Thousands of people drive fairly long distances in order to have an opportunity to work in our district. I know this sounds like I’m bragging, and maybe I am a little bit. Bu I’m also aware how fortunate I am to work in such a great district with plenty of resources, and, most importantly, great kids!

I thought the job fair would be a good experience for me to meet potential coworkers before hand and give my input about who we should hire. Even though something like a job fair gets me a little out of my comfort zone since I’m not exactly good a mingling and small talk, I realized there were more pros than cons, so I agreed to go.

As a whole, the job fair was pretty uneventful, but it was definitely an eye opening experience. I was amazed at how many people showed up to this thing without being prepared to actually speak about their experiences of about why we should hire them. I couldn’t imagine going to a job fair so unprepared.

One young man (a funny expression for me to use…I’m 37 years old) right out of college still sticks out in my mind because of the exchange that we had. By about half way through the job fair, one standard question I was asking potential applicants (especially the younger ones) was “Why did you choose to become a teacher?” The responses to what I though was fairly straightforward question were mostly pretty lame…or nonexistent. I got a few blank stares. But his one particular redheaded young man responded to question with confidence.

“I didn’t choose teaching. Teaching chose me.”

I don’t remember much of what he said after that, mainly because I was trying not to laugh at him. At least he was confident, but really? Teaching chose me? He probably sat up all night trying to come up with that line.

At the end of most days, if I have time, I like to sit and reflect on things that happened throughout the day. I’ll replay conversations and other event back through my head. Some people refer to this as meditation. I suppose that is technically what I do. I just don’t choose that particular term because it creates an image in my head of a guy in a robe sitting cross legged on the floor in a big empty room humming to himself with his eyes closed. Stereotype? Probably. We all have our faults.

Anyway, the redheaded college kid came to mind. Instead of just laughing, I asked myself the same question I had asked him. Why, Mr. Smartypants, did you choose to become a teacher?

It was at that moment that I realized that the question posed was not necessarily as straightforward as I thought it was. There are a million different reasons for why someone may choose to become a teacher. I’ve dealt with how I became a teacher previously, but I’m not sure that I really addressed the WHY. It was something that I was just drawn to. It just happened.

I grappled with the question off and on for a few days. It genuinely bothered me that I didn’t have a very good answer about why I chose to become a teacher. Then it hit me…like a vision from on high. I knew the answer, and I knew where the answer originated. It was so painfully clear to me…so obvious.

I didn’t choose teaching. Teaching chose me.