By Caitlin Donnelly, SED 2015
Outgoing, organized, friendly, good with children, energetic, great at public speaking, overachiever, one that color codes everything…These are only some of the stereotypical features that go along with being a teacher, the labels that people automatically link to your personality when they hear about your career choice. There is nothing wrong with having these characteristics, but as someone who lacks many of these trademarks, I know that these stereotypes can definitely make a person question whether they’re made for the part.
I loved my first year in the School of Education. Everyone was so warm and welcoming; it’s one of the most accepting communities I have ever been lucky enough to call my own. That being said, I still felt a little out of place in the beginning. I felt a little too quiet, a bit less organized, and not nearly as energetic as most of my future educator peers. The worst crime of all was probably my penchant for pens over crayons…
I’m also not the biggest fan of the general education classroom. As a future special education teacher, I love working one-on-one with students as opposed to being the center of attention for a large group. I love teaching life skills, analyzing student behaviors, developing individualized education plans. While these tasks are a part of every teacher’s job to some degree, they are specifically my passion in the field of education and sometimes this specificity seems to set me apart.
My lack of “teacherly” characteristics along with my specialized interests made me feel like a puzzle piece that didn’t belong. I fit in place just fine, but I felt like I didn’t match the pieces around me. Looking back, that was mainly because I couldn’t see the whole picture.
Stereotypes are dangerous, and this is a prime example of why. There are so many types of people in this world; how many of them would make excellent teachers but won’t try because they feel as though they don’t identify with the stereotype our society has set? Yes, many of the above traits are useful in teaching, but everyone remembers their favorite teacher as the one that made learning meaningful. This was the person that truly loved teaching. So, no matter how quiet you are, how loud, energetic, organized, or outgoing, no matter if you prefer teaching in the general classroom or one-on-one, the world need teachers who love teaching. It’s as simple at that.
Caitlin Donnelly is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in Special Education.