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Teaching: A love story

Brianna Romeo. Photo provided by author.

By Brianna Romeo, teacher, Maple Ridge


When I was seven, I wrote that I wanted to be a teacher on the back of a story we were writing for our creative writing unit. When I was in high school, I watched my teachers instruct their lessons and daydreamed about what I would do differently (I was a precocious teenager, mostly to a fault). I resisted the idea of teaching upon entering university. I knew I wanted to work with young people, and so I did an undergrad with a major that focused on children and their development, but was no longer sure about teaching them within the public school system—after all, hadn’t I just worked for 12 years to get out of the school system? Once I did a practicum inside an elementary school, I quickly changed my mind. And so, the love story began.


I love schools for what they represent, for their straightforwardness in description. They are buildings usually located in the middle of a community with the intention of educating nearby kids. They are also places of giving and aid within the community: they’re the leaders of breakfast clubs, food drives, clothing donation centres, backpack programs. I love the gap they fill within communities. And have you ever been to a school at pick-up time and marvelled at all of the life that exists? It’s a buzzing, open, full-of-life place. Open the doors and peek into classrooms, and there are even more treasures within. Paper-craft covered hallways leading to classrooms, each with a distinct personality, routine, structure—a classroom is an ecosystem, a small village, and the teacher at the front is its steward and guide.

I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud that within the classroom, or outside of it, I will still consistently hold the values of an educator tight...

My personal life has taken me on a route such that I am not sure what my next steps as a teacher look like. I am surprised at how much I am mourning the loss of my own classroom already, just as I was beginning. I have been strategizing ways to keep a part of my career with me—a master of education seems a natural step—and I can’t help but be grateful for all the ways that the community of education shapes a person. I feel a loss of identity; there is a part of me that will mourn the day that I can’t be in a classroom for a significant stretch of time.


What is it that makes us educators so passionate about teaching? Why, even when the kids are acting like it’s a full moon the day after Halloween in the middle of April, do we continue to love a job that sometimes feels like it won’t love us back? What is it about us that finds unparalleled joy in watching a young child struggle and persevere and succeed? I have been trying to figure it out, taking microscope and magnifying glass to the art that is teaching.


The best that I can come up with is that educators all share the distinct ability to lead, to manage a small army, to find creative ways to drum up excitement on subjects that kids may be less than enthused about. The system of education may seem outdated and tired and in need of a facelift, and yet the people who work within the system are some of the most creative, out-of-the-box, and intelligent. The world, I think, would be a better place if teachers were made presidents and prime ministers.


I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud that within the classroom, or outside of it, I will still consistently hold the values of an educator tight: creating strong community and being connected to those around me, the gift of learning, and the ability to critically think and share that thinking with others.


I am early yet in my journey. And, as Glennon Doyle has said, “You must decide what you believe to be the most important work. And then, you must go and do that work.” The beauty of the work of a teacher is that it is always changing; it is a dynamic river of thoughts, ideas, systems, and structures that fluctuate with the times and the lives of the teachers who inhabit them. The only constant is this: that I teach as I breathe. A love story that, like any other, has ebbs and flows and is marked by work, by dedication, by passion, and by the continuous desire to show up—day in and day out.


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