This teacher is known to Mamamia, but has chosen to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of her school and its students.
“How would you respond if one of your students died suddenly, and you had to go to class and see their empty seat every day?” my interviewer asked. At 18 years old, I didn’t have the answer.
As a Year 12 student, I had applied for a teaching scholarship, and travelled over 600 kilometres to Blacktown on two days notice to interview. I left the interview feeling completely deflated. Like I had been set up to fail. How could anyone have an answer to such an innately personal question? I’d never experienced adult grief, let alone stood in front of a class. I was still a student myself. Needless to say, I didn’t get the scholarship.
In the two years that followed, I moved away from home and was half way through my teaching degree when the unimaginable happened: my younger sister died suddenly, just four months shy of her 18th birthday. Suddenly, I had a whole new perspective on life, death and grief.
When I finished my degree in 2015, I was appointed to a small country school, just two hours from my home town. When people asked me about my new job, my favourite thing was always, always “the kids.”
Despite having experience in a number of schools across northern New South Wales throughout my teaching degree, I had permanently landed at one with some of the best students I had ever taught. And while I loved being challenged by clever, gifted students, my favourite thing about teaching was always helping ‘the strugglers’ achieve. As a teacher, there is honestly nothing more rewarding than seeing a student’s ‘ah-ha’ moments or handing back a task that you helped them finally pass.