Sunday, July 29, 2012
My Teacher Story Linky–Part 5 (yes, 5!)
Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
Lesson 9: Networking is Your Best Friend!
Still reading? I was hired at an amazing district. I happened to chat with an old colleague who told me my former principal’s wife, who is a principal at another district, was hiring first grade teachers. I interviewed – not my best interview. I had flown there in my car from school and went through the interview on edge and exhausted. I’m sure my answers were far from the best answers, but I was hired.
The district is a great one. My principal is a former reading teacher and extremely passionate about reading. We even went to the same college. The expectations are high and sometimes very stressful for the teachers and kids, but over all, I am so pleased that I have the freedom to teach the way that I teach and have people who have confidence in my skills. I teach staff developments and have served on many committees in the last 5 years. I have so many amazing colleagues.
However, I work in a K/1 building. As much as I love so many things about it, I am not a natural first grade teacher. I find I struggle more with patience every year and I so miss teaching pure content. So…
Lesson 10: Take Risks and Do What You Love
I have wanted to go back to school for a long time. I would love to teach at the college level. I would love to teach future teachers how to teach reading. I have wanted to pursue a doctorate in Literacy for several years (this will be my 12th year coming up if you have been tallying). I finally found a program that was workable about 30 minutes from my house. It is in teaching and curriculum, with a focus on literacy. I am hoping that I will be able to teach reading classes even though it won’t be a pure reading degree. I will begin part time classes, taking one class per week after school. To facilitate this, and in a quest to strengthen my love of teaching, I have decided to return to teaching third grade. I loved third and fourth grade. Teaching first has been wonderful, but I have felt like it was forced. As I look through all my third grade materials, I feel inspired and excited. This is a new road for me, one that looks towards the future.
It is funny how you feel like you have a direction and a plan all through college and then real life throws you curve balls. My road has been winding and full of road blocks, but it has also made me a flexible and responsive teacher. It has also made me who I am as a professional. In some ways I am more cautious, due to experience. In others, I am brave and seek challenges. I used to say that I wouldn’t trade my experiences because they have all contributed to who I am, but that is the P.C. answer. I wouldn’t wish this road on any teacher. The good parts have far outweighed the bad, but I can’t help but think there has just been too much bad. I am that teacher that listens to young teachers complains and just shakes my head. I so want to say “Honey, that’s nothing…” I know my experience may seem mild. I haven’t worked in impoverished schools, or totally lost my job. I haven’t watched fights or had other awful experiences like that. I still would not wish my difficulties on others. I can see why many new teachers do not make it more than 5 years in the profession.
It has also made me look forward to the next step professionally. I love to teach and I love education. I’m just not sure what my role will be in it in the future. The direction my state is going in concerns me greatly and I think will damage the system. It perpetuates the problems that already exists, assuming that teachers are not working hard enough. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some who are only in it for the paycheck, but by in large we are the most conientious and evaluated profession.
I am by nature a very black and white person. I am practical and analytical. Somehow, there is a part of me that has that seed, that spark, that some have. That idea that I can make a difference in the larger picture. I usually squash it down in favor of the practical . However, every once and a while I think that maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference in the profession and help the system, support our field, by teaching the future teachers. For, the teachers are what really make this profession. No matter the hurtle or the hoop, we continue to work harder and do what is best for our students. Even if that means spending hundreds or thousands of our own dollars on our classrooms and spending untold numbers of unpaid hours in our classrooms, sweating bullets or crying tears for our kids.
Blogging has opened a door for me. I was reflecting on how my voice has changed. I was challenged to write posts with voice at the beginning and weary of saying something others would think wasn’t okay. I have started to write like I think. I won’t say like I talk, because I am not a naturally talkative or social person. I have learned to just be myself with that. Blogging, though a conversation through the computer, and sometimes a one-way conversation, is very social. It has made me reflective and helped me to be organized, or more organized.
I hope that someone finds something helpful in my story. If it helps you have an “Ah ha” moment, that would be great. If it inspires you to have a different, more beneficial mindset, great. If it just makes you say,” wow that’s crazy,” that’s fine too :) !