Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Journey to Teacherhood

(This one's for you, Taylor!)

I didn't want to be a teacher.  If you would have asked me when I was in junior high or high school, I would have told you I was open to being just about anything, with the exception of teaching.  Both of my parents are teachers, so I'd grown up hearing about it all the time, and I wasn't interested.  Besides, I didn't really like kids in mass quantities. 

So, I graduated high school and went to junior college on a scholarship.  Depending on which semester you asked me, I was going to be a public relations specialist, a social worker, a psychologist, or maybe a singer/actress (some dreams die hard) but teaching was not even on the radar.  That is, until I was offered a position with AmeriCorps as a mentor/tutor.  It wasn't the job description that made me take the job, to be perfectly honest.  It was that I would be earning a stipend and money for the next two years of my education, which was not paid for.  I left the secretarial student job (that I loved) and was assigned to work in my old elementary school tutoring at-risk 5th and 6th graders.  I took to it immediately, and before long, my major was clear.  I changed my major to Elementary Education and graduated with my degree two years later.

It's funny to me that I didn't want to work with kids in mass quantities and now I teach middle school.  There's nothing more challenging than a room full of 13 year-olds who are certain they know everything they need to know about everything.  When I tell people what I teach, they mostly just shake their heads, particularly other teachers.  It doesn't really bother me because I know that I am much better off teaching junior high with all the drama and hormones than I am teaching kindergarten with all the snotty noses and shoes to tie.  (In fact, my first sub job was in my mom's classroom, and I was quick to say that they couldn't pay me enough money to do that again!) 

I'm not saying that it's always sunshine and roses, no job ever is.  There are days when you just want to kick the copier and call it a day.  But, I think when you are doing the thing you know you are supposed to do, you get over it a little easier.  You put on your big girl clothes and go back into the trenches because there's nowhere else you'd rather be.  (And if you don't believe me, check out Crystal's post on how one gesture can change a day.)  Teaching is a ministry like no other, and I am the first to say that I haven't always gotten it right.  But I'm trying.  And just like I tell my students, if you try it enough times you will eventually get the hang of it.


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