Monday, October 03, 2011

Day 3: Teaching

For most of my childhood, I wanted to be a teacher. I dreamed of helping others learn, of being in charge of lessons, of grading with a juicy red pen, and imparting knowledge.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. My school didn't have a formal Future Teachers of America club, but they did have a program where those who wanted to be teachers could sign up to be a student teacher of sorts. I spent one semester with my French V teacher in a French II class, and one semester with my former English teacher in her English 9 class. Both of these ladies poured themselves into me and allowed me to do things they probably shouldn't have: grade papers, tutor students, supervise make-up tests, and teach actual lessons.

When I got to college, I knew I wanted to teach English and French. Sadly, my college lost their French professor, and the teaching minor in French disappeared. So I chose Speech and Theatre as my second teaching field. (Years later, when the grades 7-9 "junior high" certificate in my home state disappeared, I was able to apply my graduate course in modern drama toward extending my certification through grade 12.)

I wasn't able to find a job right out of college, so I substituted. What great training for a new teacher. I always tell people if they don't get a job right out of college, there is no shame in subbing. It's great if for no other reason than it tests those classroom management skills that may not have been used much during student teaching (when the regular teacher is in the room all the time for liability reasons, the student teacher doesn't always get a true test). Also, being in so many others' classrooms gave me some strong ideas of what NOT to do in my own room.

Fast forward to the spring 2004 semester. After losing a student to suicide, and having over 150 students in my care (all of whom were either seniors I was preparing for college, or juniors I was preparing for mandated state testing - in English classes, that equals a TON of grading), and seeing how my classes grew because Mr. Perfect Teacher and Coach next door had tiny classes and I got all the new students, I had a meltdown in the counselor's office. I finally said "Enough" to one student who transferred from Mr. Perfect next door and denied her transfer, only to be told by Mr. Counselor that if I didn't take this student, I risked being sued. I finally told him I'd gone beyond my limit and could not do it. He agreed, and I found out the only reason I kept getting new students was because my name came alphabetically first before Mr. Perfect, and so he was just letting the computer choose me instead of using the drop-down menu to choose Mr. Perfect, who had at least 35 fewer students than I did.

I quit after that year, and Mr. Perfect became Mr. Assistant Principal.

The year off from teaching was probably the best thing for my sanity and healing. And when I did return to the classroom, it was at the local university as an adjunct. Adjuncts rate lower than grad students on the scale of importance, but I enjoyed teaching again--no parents calling, no state mandated testing... I only had a fall semester contract, but was asked back in the spring a few weeks into the semester when a professor suddenly took FMLA leave, even though everyone knew he was looking for another job in a larger university.

Then we moved.

And we moved again.

And we moved AGAIN, this time to our current home in Alaska. About two weeks before flying up here to live, my husband found out I had been hired for a job I'd applied for online and interviewed for on the phone. It wasn't official, but they had me on the schedule! I spent a large chunk of our plane ride familiarizing myself with the Norton Anthology of Literature the bookstore manager graciously mailed to me at my inlaws' house.

So I'm teaching again. And I am enjoying it again. What a precious gift.


Monika said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying teaching again. I bet you're amazing at it. I'd love to be in one of your classes! :)

Mrs. Blue said...

Teaching is such a gift, I'm glad you are sharing your gift again!

Thanks for stopping by my blog fellow AF spouse!!! We were supposed to be in AK this year but ended up in LA instead...the AF didn't know God was in charge again!

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