I have so much love for Dove's latest #MyBeautyMySay campaign that I wanted to share a story of my own. So here goes.
They said it was strange that a pretty girl like me wanted to be a math teacher.
I said, this ain't 1942. I'm confused. I was confused. I still am confused.
I was finishing my teaching degree, excited about the possibility of changing the world. I don't mean that in a dramatic way, I mean it literally. I was going to step inside classrooms and empower teenagers to do anything - to actually understand that they could do ANYTHING they wanted. And I was going to do that through math. If there was one thing I knew, it was that feeling stupid was one of the worst feelings in the world. And feeling as though I was inherently stupid (as many girls are made to feel, especially when it comes to M-A-T-H) made me feel powerless, lost, hopeless. That's why it was so important for me to become a teacher. I mean, there were tons of reasons, but the main one was that: to give teenagers a voice and to help them power the engine behind that voice. Through knowledge. Through understanding and finally believing that we - they - have the potential to do absolutely anything. Even math.
So there I was, heading into my first day of practice teaching, pumped and ready to change lives. I walked right into the math department and giddily announced to the first person I saw that I was a student teacher. And that's when it happened. This grouchy old math teacher - the kind they use in movies when they want to portray a stereotype of "THE grouchy old math teacher" - looked me up and down and asked: "what's a pretty girl like you doing becoming a math teacher?"
I laughed at first. But then I realized that he was serious. Like actually SERIOUS. I smiled politely and asked him just as seriously, if it was 1942. He didn't laugh. He didn't get it.
It didn't matter. That day I walked into the classroom and made it mine. Years later I still stay in touch with the students I had that very first teaching assignment, and I know that they built their engines, found their voices. Years later, people STILL give me strange looks and tell me that I don't 'look like a math teacher.' Try being in a rock band and teaching math in the same body - people don't get it and I don't get what they don't get! I'm glad that grouchy old math teacher gave me the extra fuel, the extra motivation, to make a real, tangible change. A change that will one day mean that no girl grows up thinking she's too pretty to be a math teacher, and that no boy grows up thinking that gender has anything to do with whether or not you can crunch numbers LIKE A BOSS.
I may not look like the math teachers you've seen in movies or IRL, but I look like me. I am a math teacher. This ain't 1942.