I thought long and hard about what I wanted to talk about this week. And when I least expected it, inspiration struck me yesterday, when a student asked me “Why do you teach?” Then today as I am writing this, I got an email from my older brother about how he has been nominated for going above and beyond in his classroom. Yes, that is right he is a teacher too, and he is even an art teacher, Do you think it runs in our genes?
So, firstly I just want to take a minute to talk about how proud I am of my brother. We have had countless conversations about what it means to be a good teacher, how we want to show up in the classroom, our frustrations with the education system, and why at the end of the day we love what we do.
My brother, Zachary, is an amazing human, and he is most definitely reading this right now. Thank you for always including me in your friend groups when I was growing up, thank you for always listening to me, supporting me, and never making me feel less than.
I have always admired you and it makes a lot of sense to me that the men I always tended to be attracted to reminded me so much of you. Not look wise people, don’t be gross people, but in their attitude, their interests, and how they hold themselves. Even my husband shares a lot of the same attributes, and of course, they love one another. So to Zachary I just really love you and I am so proud that you are being noticed for being such an integral member of your community.
I could write a whole blog post just on my brother and how much I admire him, but I want to get back to the question of why I teach.
To set the stage I showed my students my website and showed them pictures of my past productions. So, my student raised his hand and said “That looks like so much fun, why do you teach?”
The truth is I never thought I would be a teacher. Mainly because growing up I never felt smart enough or comfortable enough in my skin. Teaching was supposed to be a way for me to have some consistent income while I continued to do the audition thing. But once I got in the classroom I just felt such a passion for helping the creative minds of the next generation blossom into amazing humans. For me, my job as a teacher is not only to teach my students about theater but to teach them how to be good humans, how to have compassion, sympathy, and empathy for one another, how to disagree with someone and still have a thoughtful discussion, how their actions have consequences, and most importantly the fact that we need one another.
It will be my 3rd anniversary of teaching this January and I have easily taught over 500 students in that time. Some of those students have now become friends and allies, some of those students still reach out and seek advice, and some of those students I am sure have a picture of me with devil ears and a mustache drawn on it.
I never felt like I gave up my dream to perform to do this. In a lot of ways being a teacher gives me so much more than performing because I have been and will always be a giver and a caretaker and teaching allows me to do that most unselfishly.
We all know that teachers are greatly underpaid for the work we do. As an adjunct professor, I make $2,500 per class and there is a 4-class limit for adjuncts at any college. This means I can not make more than $10,000 a semester if all 4 of my classes actually happen. And if all of my classes go through each semester I bring home $30K a year, and that is if I am lucky. I clearly do not do this for the money or the notoriety, I do it because I am passionate about it.
I really do hope that within the next 3 years, I get a full-time professor position at the college I currently work for. It has been my absolute pleasure working with each and every single student.
So, let’s get back to the question at hand. “Why do I teach?” I teach because I love doing it. It doesn’t mean I failed as an actor in fact I just booked a commercial that I will be filming for next Tuesday. I think sometimes we need to take a good hard look at these so-called failures and see them for what they are.
Find the thing you are passionate about, that is most important. If you do that, everything else will fall into place. I truly believe that.
Love always your Cycle Half,