This got a little derailed, and it's a little scattered, but this is the first creative thing I've written for months, really, and since I'm very short on time and pretty short on blog post topics, here is the first journal entry for one of my education classes.
Why do you want to become a teacher? What’s your story?
I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. There were brief periods where I wanted to be an optometrist, an orthodontist, or a botanist, but never very seriously. Since I started playing school with my dolls and stuffies, I knew I wanted to teach.
Did I always want to teach middle school? Heck no! My first two years here at M___ State were spent as a secondary education major, emphasis in English with the intent to teach high school. However, I then decided to get my BA in English Writing instead, then go on to graduate school for my masters (or maybe doctorate) and teach college writing classes. I thought that was the place to be; the students want to be there (they’re paying for it, after all, or at least mom and dad are!) , and once I had some seniority and got “dibs” on the upper-division classes, I would be teaching my kind of people: English freaks. The kind of people who get really excited about word origins and semicolons, and who have conniptions when a sign in a store is misspelled or improperly punctuated.
However, I didn’t go to graduate school the year after I graduated from M___, nor did I go the next year. (Long stories.) Totally bummed and not wanting to work in retail the rest of my life, I started looking at *PBL programs on the Eastern Slope, since M___ no longer had one for secondary, just elementary. However, with the current economy and difficulty in finding jobs, my husband, Matt, and I were a little scared to move to Fort Collins/Boulder/Denver/wherever with nothing to move to but college and more student loan debt.
Serendipitously, a man from the PBL program came through my checkout line at work one day last winter and we got to talking about teaching, teaching programs, and PBLs. I found out he worked in the PBL program at M___, and said, “Well geeze, I wish you guys had it for secondary. I have to move all the way to Denver next fall!”
“We do,” he replied. “We’ll be starting it back up this coming year.”
That changed everything! Matt and I could stay here at the jobs we knew and tolerated; he could work while I did this “intensive” program (and is it ever!) and in one calendar year, I would be a certified teacher!
When I got my placement for my pre-internship and internship, I made a face like I’d just tasted rotten lemons. Seventh grade? Twelve-year olds five days a week for nine months? Really? I wanted high school students! Since I wouldn’t be teaching at the college level, they were the next best thing, I thought. More mature, and developed enough that they didn’t need to be babysat like the junior high kids.
The more I thought about it and talked about it, though, the more I chatted with the principal at W___ Middle School and my mentor teacher, K__ D____, and the more I started reading the novels 7th-graders read and thinking about the sorts of things they do, the more excited I got! I couldn’t wait for my online summer classes to be over, as interesting as they were, in order to get to the good stuff. I can’t explain it; it’s like this desire to be with middle school kids suddenly welled up in my heart and flowed throughout my whole life.
The kids are awesome. They’re hilarious and gross, and the boys have that just-becoming-teenagers-and-not-used-to-sweating-so-they-don’t-shower-much boy smell, and the girls are all about lip gloss and Twilight books, but I love them all. Standing at the doors every morning, watching them rush past me yelling, jostling, and giggling, watching them slam their lockers and then open them right back up to get the pencil they forgot… I just want to hug them all! They’re these little miniature people (though some are bigger than me!) who are learning who they are, who they want to be, what they want to do. My husband refers to them as “larval humans,” and while he doesn’t mean it in a nice way, I think that’s a fairly accurate description. Not to get all gooey-sentimental, but they’re still inside their comfy being-a-kid shell. They’re mushy and awkward and messy, growing into someday butterflies. And I love that I’m a part of their lives right now, that I get to watch them metamorphose into beautiful, brilliant, unique creatures.
God bless the elementary teachers. They do more babysitting even than I do (which is still a lot!), and they have kids in the “caterpillar” stage—worming their way through letters, sounds, words, through addition and subtraction, through lining up for recess and tying their shoes. I’d be fine doing daycare for the littles, but trying to do that and teach them stuff? No thank you. And I’m sure they feel the same way about middle school teachers—they wouldn’t want to touch those kids with a ten foot pole. (Sometimes, neither do I, so I can’t blame them.) But this is where I’m supposed to be. I can feel it. And hopefully, this is where I’ll be next year when it’s time to get a real teaching job, and the year after that, and the year after that.
*PBL: Post-Baccalaureate Licensure; basically you have your Bachelor's in something, then add the education credits on to become licensed to teach in that content area.