Saturday, April 23, 2016

T: Teaching #AtoZChallenge

From the time I was very young, I can only remember wanting to be a teacher. I loved reading books, I loved learning new things, and I loved helping other people. My grandmother had been a teacher and my dad was a librarian at a local university. I felt surrounded by learning and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

As soon as people started asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered with "a teacher." Consistently; every time. When I went to college, I picked a track that would be well suited for teacher licensure. It may have taken an extra semester for me to declare my intention, but that was more about procrastination than indecisiveness.

I liked my teaching classes and my psychology classes. I enjoyed learning about how the brain works and best practices for teaching things. I learned that there were all different kinds of ways to learn things and that teachers needed to try a variety of ways in order to reach a variety of students. My favorite parts of my schooling were the practicum placements and volunteer opportunities I had that allowed me into the classrooms to interact with real students. Just being able to see the little lights come on in their brains when the learned something new was so fulfilling!

I did find a job teaching. It was new and scary. I was teaching second grade. There were five teachers in that grade level at my school that year. Four of us were brand new teachers. We learned a lot together. We helped each other out a lot as much as we could. I really did enjoy my first year. It was hard, but fulfilling. I was also pregnant for the second half and that made things even more interesting!

Ultimately, it turned out that teaching in a public school classroom was not a good fit for me at that time in my life. There were days when I felt too busy to pay attention to Frances, and there were days when I felt so compelled to spend time with my infant daughter that I neglected my planning and grading. I reached out for help, but didn't get a whole lot. And it got to the point where it wasn't healthy for me anymore.

I left that school and spent the summer trying to figure out what to do next. According to our bank account, I needed a job. I found one in a day care/preschool. I was able to bring Frances with me to work every day. She was just down the hall from me and I could see her when I took my class outside or to the bathroom for breaks. I loved my time there, and I was still teaching.

After five years there, it became time for me to move on again. I was ready to leave for a variety of reasons, but also sad. Not to mention nervous about the future. by the grace of God (I really have no other explanation) I stumbled into the position I have now.

I work in the College of Education. I'm not a teacher by name anymore, but I still have the honor of passing on my knowledge to other students. They ask about how to iron pants, how to hem a garment, how long to bake a chicken, what to do about a roommate or boyfriend they are having issues with, etc. 

I've realized that you don't have to be in a classroom to teach others. It doesn't have to be formal to be fulfilling. The spark in someone's eye when they figure something out is just as amazing whether the learner is 3 or 23!

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