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June 1, 2014
Vol. 71
No. 9

On Becoming a Teacher

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Robyn Jackson

I wish I had a great story about "the moment" I decided to become a teacher. I do know that when I was young, people told me that I was smart and that I should do something great. I thought great was an attorney or a business mogul or a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. So when people asked me what I would be, I'd say a lawyer, and they'd pat me on the head and say, "That's a future worthy of your talent!"
It was like that all through high school. During my senior year, I was in a class and our assignment was to research the career we wanted to pursue. Now I'd already applied to colleges, already decided on being a journalist or attorney because they're glamorous professions. You see TV shows and movies about journalists and attorneys all the time. And they're always sexy, they're always hot. So I thought that's what I wanted to be.
So I started to research those careers. But something whispered in me, "No, you're going to be a teacher." When I started telling people that, they said, "A teacher? You're more talented than that! You don't want to be a teacher!" But the moment I made that decision, the rest of my life made sense.
And I've never regretted it. I don't think there's a career that's sexier, I don't think there's a career that's more inspiring or interesting or fulfilling than being a teacher. It was the exact right thing for me to do. And I don't think there's another career that's worthy of me other than teaching.
So people look at me all the time and say, "Teacher?" and I say, "Yeah, teacher!" And I'm the luckiest girl in the world because there's nothing like it. Nothing else would have inspired the passion I have. This is what I was meant to do.
<ATTRIB> Robyn Jackson is president of Mindsteps, Inc. Her latest book is Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom (ASCD, 2013). </ATTRIB>

Douglas Fisher

I've wanted to be a teacher my whole life. Everything about me was about being a teacher. I love the idea of learning. I love being in school. I love being part of school. I love being the teacher. I love being the learner. It's amazing when your brain can add "stuff." I like to watch it in my students, and I like to watch it in me.
I also had a person in my life who was super-important to me—my 10th grade English teacher. He said, "You're a good writer." He's the first person who ever told me I could write. Before that, I just never knew. He made a comment that changed my life.
I thought about that when I became a teacher. I have to be careful with what I say because that comment could influence a student's life forever.
<ATTRIB> Douglas Fisher is professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego. His latest book, coauthored with Nancy Frey and Alex Gonzalez, is Teaching with Tablets: How Do I Integrate Tablets with Effective Instruction? (ASCD, 2013). </ATTRIB>
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