Wednesday, April 2, 2014


This week has been extra busy for me as I've been meeting with all of my advisees in preparation for registration for courses for the fall. I have a few dozen students--all of them studying education--assigned to me. They have different emphases, from secondary physical education, to elementary education with a specialty in reading, to middle school math and science, to special education...but the common thread is that they have me as their advisor.

I'm supposed to give them advice. And I do: we talk about the courses they should take, the requirements of the program, the different options they might choose to meet different requirements, how to plan for a semester abroad and still complete the program in four years. I give them other advice as well; they have great questions: "How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?" "What kind of volunteer opportunities should I look for this summer that would help me become a better teacher?" "I'm just not sure if teaching is for me...does it make sense to take a break from education classes for a semester and try ______ instead?"

I had an amazing question this week, one that really challenged me: "How do you know if you are 'called' to be a teacher?"

Isn't that a powerful question? (And a very hard one to answer!)

My response was--I hope--thoughtful. I suggested that calling is both internal and external. We may feel an internal pull in a direction where we know we are passionate. We may have an external confirmation from others who see gifts in us and prod us in a certain direction.

Of course, then there's the follow up question: "What if I have had a lot of people tell me I should become a teacher, but I just don't feel like this is 'right' for me?"

Ooooo...that's rough. I responded by saying--as I so often say to my education majors--"teaching is not for the faint of heart." If you don't love kids, if you don't love the content you teach, if you don't love learning how to teach and continuing to grow...maybe this isn't for you?

It's hard for me to say that. I wish every education major felt a strong sense of calling. But it isn't for everyone. Teaching is hard work! And it's really hard work if you don't feel passionate about it. So what do you do when other people see gifts in you for teaching, but you don't feel like it's for you?

This student wasn't feeling like dropping education entirely, just raising questions and trying to to figure out life. So my advice was to take a few more education courses, just to be sure. My student agreed--nothing else was pulling more than education.

I hope that was wise advice. Teaching is not for the faint of heart.

Image from Pixabay


  1. I can definitely relate to these students. It's a tricky business discerning one's calling. Moments of certainty can be met with moments of doubt. This turning of tides can cause one to wonder which instance to be a rarity and which is how things are. Any career can be tough and met with difficulties, stresses, and frustration but I think it is important to reflect whether or not they believe that what they did was worth while. It is vital, though, that you have a listening ear as well. God can call us down one path, and then down another. He knows where we are going and we need to trust in him so we can enjoy the ride.

    1. Also... if any of your students have questions that they would like to ask a first year, like myself, I would be more than willing. I know that I would have liked to ask a few questions of someone who was out in the field, figuring things out.

    2. Amber, that is awesome--thanks for volunteering. You just might get emails from some students... ;-)