In honor of International Teacher’s Day, we asked our very own Managing Editor, Amanda Bambury, about her journey to and passion for teaching.
Why did you become interested in teaching? What does a day at work look like for you?
My interest in teaching developed slowly over the course of several years as I went from dreaming of working in international law, to growing more interested in education, and then to working in higher education before becoming a high school teacher. Looking back, there were signs all along that teaching would be a great fit, but I didn’t recognize them. This is the short version of a longer story about how God is merciful towards His type-A, plan-obsessed children and gently guides us to where He wants us to be - where we’ll be happiest and (hopefully) of service to others. Teaching was never my plan, but I enjoy being a teacher and I’m grateful that my other career plans didn’t pan out.
My workday includes teaching classes (mostly literature and history), supervising study halls, taking advantage of planning periods, and talking with students outside of class. I also advise our Student Council and I’m one of our school’s CrossFit coaches, which gives me the opportunity to interact with students outside of the classroom. One of the fun parts of teaching is that, while your schedule is set, the days are always different. Even as you get to know your students better, when you work with teenagers, there’s always the possibility of surprise. They keep me on my toes and keep the days from being boring!
What are some of your hobbies outside of your workday?
My main hobby is baking, which I might take a little too seriously, but enjoy nonetheless! I like testing different recipes to find the best one, trying to make something new, and improving on things I already know how to make. Both of my degrees are in French literature, so I gravitate towards French patisserie when baking. Every Easter, I make two kinds of cream puffs and macarons - it’s become a fun tradition! I’d also like to try my hand at Italian pastries since my family is Italian.
Aside from baking, working for FemCatholic as the Managing Editor is a great source of joy.
How do you find purpose in your career?
As a teacher, there’s nothing better than watching your students grow and witnessing the joy that comes along with that. High school offers so many opportunities for growth: Earning an A in a class that really challenges you, learning how to be a good friend, developing a healthy sense of self, and plenty of other chances to grow personally. It’s a privilege to be able to show the students that someone cares for them and to be even a small part of helping them learn and grow.
How do you integrate your faith in your career or how do you see them relating to one another?
Since I work at a Catholic school, there are countless ways that I can integrate my faith into my career. Our school has Mass every week, we pray before each class, and we discuss matters of faith even in non-theology classes. However, I would say my faith is most impactful on my job in invisible ways. When I’m having a bad day personally or not feeling well, I pray (and sometimes beg) God for the grace to love my students and give them my best self. When I can tell a student is having a hard time, I entrust them to God and ask Him to care for them if I can’t. When I don’t do my best as a teacher - whether by losing my patience or teaching a so-so lesson - I ask God for forgiveness and guidance in how to do better next time. Teaching is a school of patience, humility, and love. You can’t do it without grace.
What is one piece of advice for a young woman who’s considering a career in teaching?
Being a teacher is about far more than just the work of teaching itself. My main piece of advice is to carefully consider what kind of school you want to teach at: College prep? Classical? Public? Catholic? Non-religious? Middle school? High school? These factors will have a tremendous impact on what your job entails. Personally, I value working at a school whose mission I genuinely believe in. I also enjoy working with high school students, and actually liking the age group you teach makes a huge difference when you spend a lot of time surrounded by them.
My other piece of advice is to prioritize your well-being: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. When you aren’t at your best, it is so easy to unintentionally take that out on your students. I think the same could also be said of any job that’s focused on working with people.
As a teacher, what is a lesson you have learned from your students?
My students teach me to be a little more carefree. They inspire me to do things like stop a lecture in the middle of class to watch a flock of baby geese climb up a ramp, or to look for a bird’s nest when we can hear the baby birds’ chirping from inside. Yes, both of those happened, and they’re some of my favorite moments as a teacher so far!
What is your go-to motivational quote?
“Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.” - St. Catherine of Siena