Thursday, August 13, 2009

Four years ago this month...

I plunged into a new career. Head first, without looking back, dismissing naysayers as I ventured into a middle school for the first time in 30 years! This time, not as a student but as an 8th-grade language arts teacher. Without a degree in education... without having substituted... without having been around middle-schoolers since I was in 8th-grade three decades before! Eighth grade! Can you believe it?

You're probably wondering how I became a teacher without having a teaching degree or even substituting.... Aren't you? To save time and (hopefully) keep you from clicking on another blog, I'll give you the short version of my path to teacherdom.... I already held a bachelor's degree in communications and had a lot of experience as a writer. I had a little teaching experience by working with interns and guest lecturing at a local university. That's probably how the teaching bug bit me.

The bad news was that I would have to work my way through college again as a graduate student and spend endless evenings (three to five years worth of them) earning my teaching credentials. I just didn't want to wait that long. Instead, I chose an alternative program called TAPP, or Teacher Alternative Preparation Program.

After a summer "boot camp," where I learned the basics of classroom management, teaching, and curriculum design, I simply walked into my classroom and began to teach. Whew, was that tough! In addition to teaching each day, I attended some evening classes and seminars during my first two years of teaching, compiled a huge portfolio, was observed over and over and over again, and had to pass the necessary examinations, but the focus of TAPP was "on-the-job" training so-to-speak from the first day on.

It's been four years, and at the end of this year, my first class will be graduating from high school. But probably the strangest thing of all is that my daughter, who was going into 4th grade the year I began teaching, is going into 8th grade this year! She's the same age as my students.... my baby is one of them now!

Time passes by so quickly. Here I am during my first year of teaching....

This time next week, instead of enjoying a pajama day I'll be meeting the kids who'll be a big part of my life this year... nearly 100 of them... all with different personalities, talents, and stories that make each one unique. It will be up to me to discover each student's uniqueness by peeling back the layers of facades they have so carefully constructed over the years....

Sometimes it takes me half the school year or more to figure them out... what makes them tick, what ticks them off, what motivates them to learn (or at least to not socialize quite as much!). Each child is a mystery to unravel, all while I try to teach them what they need to learn this year... in literature and language arts.

Am I ready for them? I better be....

I'm a teacher now!

13 comments:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Congratulations on your 4-year anniversary!

Caroline said...

That is amazing! I hope that I can find a career that fulfilling someday. Congrats and enjoy the new school year!

miruspeg said...

You are a huge part of those kid's lives are well Roban.
Time fly when you are having fun or helping nurture young minds.

What an interesting 4 years and how lucky are those kids that you persevered with your new teaching career in the face of some obstacles.

What a great post.
Hugs
Peggy xxxx

beth said...

wow...teachers have such a special place in my heart as I think they have one of the hardest jobs EVER !

so congratulations to you !

and the kids you have this year in your classroom, how lucky are they ?

Mummy McTavish said...

It was a matter of "one more blog before bed"... I'm so glad it was yours! I have been getting more and more disheartened about education as I look further and further down the barrel of sending Lion off to school next year. I needed a reminder that there are teachers who care about their students and WANT to know about who they are and how they learn. Thanks!

McMGrad89 said...

I got my certificate through an alternate program too, but that was 11 school years ago.

Have a great school year. I go back on Monday for a week of professional development. Then, the students will come.

I love school, but will sure miss summer.

Candace said...

I remember your first year! I remember thinking what a great teacher you were even though you got a rough group and an even rougher schedule. They pretty much just threw you to the wolves and I remember thinking, "if she can make it through this year and still want to come back next year, she is a TEACHER." I miss teaching with you and hope you have a great year!!!

charrette said...

This is so inspiring!(Teaching English is one of my back-burner dreams.) Those kids are very lucky to have you -- such a dedicated, engaging teacher, passionate about the subject, and about them.

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing your story - I'd love to find my way into a classroom someday, and I'd been curious about how to do this without enrolling in school yet again. Glad that you love your job so much - my parents both teach so I know it is very rewarding.

Joyce said...

Good luck on your teaching this year. My daughter teaches special Ed 3rd grade and my DIL also. We need good dedicated teachers and I know your students will be lucky to have you.
Joyce

Candy said...

wow. you're brave, and you'll be used through this.

Inga's Notepad said...

Happy anniversary... hope this school year is filled with wonderful challenges & adventures for you & your students!

Happy new school year!

:) Inga

queenoftheclick said...

Hope you are enjoying your new classes! Have a wonderful year and remember to take time for yourself :)