Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You Are Teaching What?

When I entered college back in 1995, it was my sincere goal to become a high school history teacher.  I was determined to inspire hundreds of students.  I would change perceptions.  My line was, "I will not be a boring history teacher.  History is exciting.  Students should experiencing this."  I was one of the very few freshman who declared their major on the first day of their first year of college, announcing with confidence to my orientation group, "Yep, social studies teaching major."

I stuck with my plan, except I kept getting pulled toward a random writing class here and there, wishing I could double major, but wanting to finish in four years I stuck to my plan.  Then I graduated.  No high school principal would hire me.  I don't blame them now.  I was 21 and looked 17.  So, I landed my first job, instead, at a middle school teaching in a self-contained, multi-age classroom.  Oh and I was the science rep for our middle school house.  This lead me to taking more classes and adding my language arts endorsement.

My next job was teaching language arts and social studies to just 7th and 8th graders.  I loved middle schoolers, still do.  When people heard the age I taught most reactions went something like this, "Wow, why would you ever want to do that?"  Ouch.  Is something wrong with me that I like middle schoolers?

Then life transitioned me again.  I became a mom.  I started tutoring a bit on the side, tutoring preschoolers and grade schoolers and high schoolers at my kitchen table.  I enjoyed it.  I loved teaching the younger kids.  I was learning so much about those middle school students I had been teaching for seven years.  I was understanding the pieces they were missing in their writing and reading development when I worked with my much younger students.  I was growing as a person and as a teacher.

But there was something else I wanted to try: writing.  I got a gig writing a humor column for the Newberg Graphic.  I had a bit of success with some other freelance work.  And then I scored my dream job: teaching writing at George Fox.  I couldn't believe how perfect this job was and how passionate I was about it.  I knew I loved writing and I loved teaching writing to middle school students, but teaching it to freshman at college...this was brilliant!  They absorbed everything I taught them.  The growth they made was incredible.

An opportunity came.  We moved.  Oh how I wanted to stay at Fox, but I chose something different for my family.  We were being moved in a new direction.  We headed back to the family farm: more space; more access to nature.  There were plenty of days we thought we'd made a mistake, but again and again God confirmed our decision, and we pressed ourselves into it.

I signed my oldest up for a preschool co-op sponsored by our local community college.  I dove in.  This program changed my thinking about early childhood education.  I learned much.  I became a believer.  I waited.  And then I felt it again, another transition was coming.  I opened myself up for something new and different.  I have gotten better, as I've gotten older, at holding life loosely.

And that is where I find myself now: preschool teacher.  If you would have told my 17-year-old self that I'd be teaching and facilitating a preschool program I'm not sure I would have believed you.  But I am not that same 17-year-old girl.  I'm in a different space, and it is good.  I'm excited.  I didn't force anything. I waited.  And here it is.  For this I am thankful.



Anonymous said...

I've been checking for weeks for a new post. And it's here now! Love this post.


Heather said...

I think it is good that we aren't that same college freshman who thought they knew everything and how our lives would go. I am sure in another 15 years we will say the same thing again about this part of our lives. Though I am sure I will miss it, as by that time my children will be grown or mostly so, and a whole new chapter will begin again.

Congratulations again on the preschool. I am sure you are doing a wonderful job and I hope that it continues to go well for you.

Jessica said...

I really enjoyed reading your journey. So inspiring! I love when you share.