2010–2023 Writings
by Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Who am I if Not a Teacher?

Written in


It all started in 2005. Can you believe that was ten years ago?

I was working in a grey office building, making a decent salary working in advertising and marketing and hating my everyday existence.

My dad gave me a clipping from the local newspaper promoting an alternative teaching certification program. And the rest, as they say, is history.

From the beginning my career was both challenging and rewarding. I strongly identified as a teacher and generally enjoyed the act of teaching.

Nine years later, I find myself in rural Guatemala, having gained bilingual teaching experience at a public elementary school in Austin, Texas, an elite private high school in Guatemala City and a small, progressive private primary school in the western Guatemalan highlands.

Something else started last summer. My friend Kat sent me a book on progressive learning called Self Design, which I devoured immediately, as I was vacationing in Colombia, visiting my husband’s family. This book, written by the founder of a learning community in British Columbia, got me thinking deeply about education, schooling, teaching and learning.

It made me realize that I didn’t want to continue in the traditional classroom. However, I had signed on for another year at Life School here at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and did not want to back out at the last minute from that commitment. I (half) joked about how Life School was the only school in the world I’d be able to work at. That’s how progressive and unique I thought that it was.

And it is, without a doubt, a unique educational institution. The Robert Muller LIFE International School has been around for over 25 years. It now serves a student body of approximately 100. The students are mostly Guatemalan, though some are international. There is a diverse socioeconomic range among the families that make up the school and some students receive scholarships and financial aid while others pay out of pocket.

Long story short, I was fired from my teaching position at the end of January. I am no longer a Life School teacher. I am no longer a school teacher. I am no longer employed as a teacher. I am not a teacher anymore?

(Except that I am still a yoga instructor.)

(Except that I am a devoted profesora of peace and a mentor of mindfulness.)

(Except that I have my “Master’s in Education”—for whatever that’s worth.)

(Except that I will always be a teacher and a learner as long as I shall live.)


michelle and jade

One response to “Who am I if Not a Teacher?”

  1. Losing a label can be liberating! We are so much more than the roles we play and can often have a greater impact on others when we step outside of them. I look forward to continuing to learn from and with you.

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