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Epilogue

Teaching is not just a job; it is a way of life. If there is one thing that I had to pick as that most important lesson that I learned at Albion, it is the previous statement. Teaching is not just something you do to bring home money, if you do it right, it is something that you live and breathe.
While doing my field placements in Albion Public Schools, I always thought of myself as a student. I was the student sitting in class and learning from the teacher. Although the students would refer to me as Miss Kelly, I never felt like an authority figure within the classroom. It wasn’t until I came back to student teach, that I realized that I had always been a role model and an authority figure for these kids. Students that I had worked with two years prior still referred to me as Miss Kelly and often would refer to things that I did with them in the classroom. I then realized that no matter where I was at in the classroom, I was teaching.
As a teacher, I am a role model on so many levels. I do not just teach the students core curriculum, I teach them about life through my own example. Students are often watching my actions and reactions in the classroom. They learn to how to interact with peers by watching me interact with students and other teachers. These students are learning life-long lessons from me just by observing my classroom behavior.
Students, however, also pay attention to things such as dress. One day, I wore a belt over my long shirt as part of a fashion trend. The next day, two girls came to class with their belts over their shirts. The belt did not go there, it was not part of an outfit they had bought at a store; they were doing it to emulate me. I then paid closer attention to what I wore in order to be a positive role model to these young students.
I came to one very important conclusion during the semester related to my first statement: as a teacher I need to be the same person in the classroom as I am outside of the classroom. During student teaching, I ran into one of my students at an Albion College event. During this time I was with my friends who are less than conscious of young kids around. I then had to switch to be on my best behavior. I corrected my friends’ language, but I realized that changing was actually reverting back to who I was. I prefer to be a professional and actually, I left my friends to interact with my student. Unlike a lot of teachers, I did not have to “switch” into teacher mode; I had to switch off kid mode.
That day taught me a lot about who I am as an individual. I realized that I am more comfortable and complete being a “teacher” as opposed to a college student. I also learned that no matter where I go and what I do I am in “teaching mode.”  Even with my family, I take on the teaching role. I don’t just teach; I am a teacher. I realize I have always been a teacher and I will always be a teacher even if my profession changes. It is part of my core identity.

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