I have taught swimming lessons for almost seven years now. When I first started I was a nervous wreck and had absolutely no idea what to do. (Much like I anticipate my first year of teaching to be.) Now, years down the line it's something I cherish and, dare I say, something I even thrive at?
During my most recent session of swim lessons I have been teaching a class of older, but beginner swimmers. They have some skills, but some still have fear of the water while others are ready to dive in and do whatever I ask. I ask myself everyday, how can I bridge this gap? What can I do to make sure I reach every single child? Then suddenly, somehow, the answer comes to me. I push myself to do better with the lower students, and then offer new opportunities to the higher. I never limit them to keep the others caught up. It may be something as simple as keeping their face in the water while the others are able to look up. Or it may be something more complex as to learning a different stroke while other students are still learning the basics.
Often times during school I am asked as a teacher what my greatest strength and what my greatest weakness would be. My greatest strength has always been my empathy, my ability to listen to each student and the struggles they face. As much as I have tried to fight it, my greatest weakness has been my flexibility. I never thought it would be possible for me to find a way to reach each student when some are very advance and some struggle a little more. Slowly, I am turning my weakness into a strength and I believe giving swim lessons has allowed me to realize that.
So I look forward to my career as a teacher. I look forward to the first time I step foot in a classroom. I look forward to 10 years down the road continuing to reach students in any way that I can. I look forward to looking back and realizing I have grown as much as my students have in a single school year.
Here's to teaching, and learning for the rest of my life because it's what I was born to do.