Lauren Alvarez is a Ball State English Education student.  Connect with her on Instagram. The essay below was a response to a prompt in one of Lauren’s English Ed classes. 

Why do you want to be an English teacher?

I know why I want to be an English teacher. I chose English with dreams of teaching advanced and AP classes and eventually moving on to the college level for a reason—I want to teach people who want to learn about English. I want to teach people that English is not just rigid grammar rules and college-level reading skills—it is entirely freeing and not rigid at all. Before high school, I used to think poetry was just a term reserved for texts that rhymed, and therefore, I never considered my writing serious or good because it didn’t fit my understanding of what poetry was—but I still wrote. Come high school, I find out what prose means. I find out what slam poetry means. I find out that what I’ve been doing for years is not uncommon. I was still confined by the five MLA style five-sentence paragraph rule, and I never felt I earned the right to call myself a writer until I had AP Language and Composition. That class, the teacher, her lessons encouraged me to be curious about writing. I was invited to use punctuation I’d never heard of before—my most beloved mark being the em dash if you couldn’t tell. I memorized and experimented with every rhetorical strategy under the sun. I began to see our weekly essays as a chance to perfect my craft. I tried everything, noting what worked and what didn’t, and used what didn’t work again and again until it finally worked, and the satisfaction that came with perfecting a strategy quickly became my biggest motivator. I was truly immersed in a world of writing that I had never been exposed to before. 

One day, my teacher passed out an essay that demonstrated how the process of writing is like a song. Something with rhythm and tempo and purpose. Fast forward to the spring semester of 2019, and my English professor showed the class a similar work he had written. I can’t help but feel like it was some sort of sign. Being encouraged to see writing as an art and I as the artist seemed so foreign but felt so right. I wanted to be an artist, and I never realized that I always was one. I love the composition part of English and hope to teach people about it as an art form. But why would any of this make me want to teach English? Why does my journey as a writer have any influence on what I ultimately choose as my career? They say, “Do what you love,” and if I love writing so much, I could become an author and dedicate my life to perfecting my craft—but the only reason I got to where I am now is because of those made it their craft to guide me through my journey as a writer. I know how encouraging it is to have a guide, and I can’t help but entertain my curiosity on how it feels to be the guide. 

I know what it’s like to hear a teacher say something as simple as one sentence and have my whole world, and everything I thought I knew in it, turn upside down. I know what it’s like to be completely floored by a realization and become obsessed with finding out more because of something a teacher said. I know what it’s like to be enamored by the raw beauty of the unknown and be riddled from head to toe with excitement that borders anxiety because of how beautiful, how pure, how jarring a 40-minute lesson plan could be when made by someone who cares about what they’re doing. I know what it’s like to be sitting in that seat, staring at the whiteboard and waiting for the bell to ring—and I can’t help but wonder what it’s like to be on the other side. I want to be there for my students as my past teachers have been for me. Even when we have bad days, I want my students to know that I care just as much as I do on our good days. Even for those who just show up for the credit—I want to give them the opportunity to view writing from a different perspective. And for those who are truly invested in the subject—I want to give them the opportunity to step outside their comfort zone. That’s why.

Looking for more stories about becoming a teacher? Check out these posts about Sarah Bredar and Laurinda Webb! Learn more about BSU English Ed Month.