Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Today's prompt says: Why did you end up in teaching? Good question. The answer is so far from what I wish it was. I want to tell you some romantic dream that will make me look better and will match with my current feelings about teaching. I ended up in teaching because I was tired. I was working in a daycare with three year olds teaching preschool skills. I was making a menial wage. And I was getting by. Part of me might have been happy getting by forever. But really I was tired of not making enough to make ends meet and that there was no where to go, no ladder to climb. Not to mention that working with young children is exhausting. And yes, it is rewarding too. But it is exhausting every day. One year in May when the teachers whose children were in my care starting pulling them out for the summer, I thought, "Hmmmm.... if I can teach preschool, I can teach elementary school...." and I applied to college and have never looked back. I don't like this story because it is everything we say are not "real" reasons to teach: it's a job; we get summers off; we come home early. Well, first of all, I now know that most of those things are not true. I also wanted a job with insurance. As a single Mom, insurance is a pretty big deal. I now realize that no teacher gets the summer off and that I am the worst of the lot! I am always thinking about teaching.... on breaks, over summer and when I should be sleeping!! But I do get to be with my children in summer, even if I am a teacher ALWAYS and that part of me never shuts off. Getting off early.... yeah. Hahahahahahaha! This coming year my contracted day will end at 3:25. I have already scoped out the nearest gluten free pizza joints because I know that we'll be leaving at suppertime many a night. And I know that it will be much like being a first year teacher again. Long nights. I refuse to stay until midnight this year. And yes, I did that in Oklahoma my first year. To some extent, some of the original reasons to teach still stand. It IS a job. In spite of how overworked and under-appreciated I think that teachers may be, it IS a job. It is a hard job, but in an intellectual kind of way. I can do this kind of hard work all day long. This summer I've been revisiting my daycare days. I have been working with three and four year olds and we are working on basic preschool skills. I am bone tired every night. I don't know how I did this for four years! It DOES have benefits and retirement. (If I keep going back to school, I may never be able to afford retirement, but still.....). Coming home early. That concept is relative. I forget that some people (and I was one of them) generally work until 5:30 or 7:30 or later. And that once school is out, even though I am still working, my child is with me. But I have discovered that I am a teacher. What does that mean????? I am now and have always been a teacher. I don't know what caused me to wake up one day when I was 40 and pursue the degree. It is in my heart and soul to make life better for the children I teach. It seems to me that there is no greater reward than seeing a child read who didn't read before they came to me. And there is great honor and privilege in seeing children who know I care about them and that give me hugs and know that life is better when Ms. Horn is in it. My desire to teach the students who don't fit in mainstream education. Students who are like I was as a youngster, and need that extra something. We need to be loved and appreciated. And all kids do. But some kids need it more. Maybe they have a dysfunctional home life. Maybe they were born with a great big void in their lives that nothing can ever fill but that people who try and take time to care do actually make a difference for them. Maybe. I don't know how we get so messed up, but I just want to be THAT teacher. I don't like to tell about the how or why I became a teacher. Because it doesn't necessarily match with the discovery that I AM a teacher, in my heart and soul, and the license to teach is just the proof that your state trusts me with your children, it's not the great and wonderful gift of teaching.