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My Inspiration to Be a Teacher: From Tennis Instructor to Kindergarten Teacher

Teaching kids tennis

I could never imagine myself being in any other profession than teaching. My inspiration to be a teacher stems from my love of teaching today's youth to be productive, well-respected citizens. However, I decided that in order to truly understand the impact I have on my students, I should ask the most open, honest, and unfiltered individuals I know: my kindergarten students. When I asked them why they thought I wanted to be a teacher, I got some fairly spot-on responses, like "You want to teach kids and have fun" and "You get cookies and cupcakes for birthday treats, too!" While these reasons certainly aren't untrue, here's a bit more on why I became a teacher, and what fuels me in the classroom each and every day.

From Pretend to Reality

Growing up in a household of educators, one might say that I was destined to be a teacher at a young age. As a child, I often pretended I was leading a classroom with my stuffed animals. However, this fictitious game of teacher drastically changed when I received a phone call from a local tennis club about teaching a summer tennis camp to 3- to 5-year-old campers. After accepting the job and hanging up the phone, I anxiously danced around the house in pure bliss. But this trance of excitement suddenly came to a halt when fear sunk in. "Wait, did I hear him right?" I thought. "3- to 5-year-olds? How am I supposed to teach students at this age the basic game of tennis?" Let's face it: I was worried.

"Aha" Moment

The first day of tennis camp arrived and I was sweating bullets. As five 3- to 5-year-olds entered the tennis court, I took a deep breath and said a prayer. I started the class by introducing myself and teaching the kids how to hold their tennis rackets. Boom! They all got it right away—or so I thought. The next minute they were all holding their tennis rackets the wrong way. "Is this what it's like to be a teacher?" I thought. Instead of getting frustrated or giving up, I found myself feeling motivated to be persistent and remind my students until they grasped certain concepts about the game.

On day one, I was hit by five tennis balls (man do some of those kids have a swing) and I lost a group of students after sending them on a bathroom break (don't worry, I found them). But overall, it was a pretty successful day. The rest of the week reassured me of my abilities to teach students the game of tennis and this experience led me to an "aha" moment. I realized how much I enjoyed working with younger children and teaching them the basic skills of the game. This experience also made me realize that I can be as silly, crazy, funny, or weird as I want, and my younger students still think I'm what society calls "normal." This experience is exactly what motivated me to pursue teaching.

Sweeter Than Any Birthday Treat

I'm in my fourth year of teaching kindergarten, and as much as I love a good birthday cookie, being a teacher is better than any dessert I've ever had. It's extremely rewarding, and I am truly blessed to do what I'm passionate about for a living. As an educator, you're one of the most influential people in your students' lives. They look to you for guidance, encouragement, compassion, and strength. To this day, I still remember who my teachers were from preschool to 12th grade. They taught me to pass on the love of learning and to create lifelong learners, and I hope my students feel the same way.

As a male kindergarten teacher, I'm often asked about my inspiration to be a teacher. When I first started to wander down the teaching path, people would make negative remarks about my decision. "You know you're not going to make any money, right?" was something I heard often. To me, teaching isn't as much about the money as it is about making a difference in the lives of today's youth. I knew it would be a full-time commitment and that I would encounter many challenges, but I also knew the positives would always outweigh the challenges I might face. I always wanted a job that I was excited to get up in the morning to go to, and being a teacher has certainly met those expectations.

   
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