After six years, thousands of dollars, and three transfers, I’ve finally hammered out exactly what I want to do with this little life of mine.
When I went back to school in January 2008 to get my degree in elementary education, all I knew was that I loved learning and I loved kids and that the two seemed to go hand-in-hand for me. Even though I knew what I wanted to study (took long enough!), I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to DO with my life. What grade do I want to teach? What kind of school do I want to teach in? Where do I want to teach? Do I want to teach in a classroom or in a more specialized area? What in the world do I want to do!?
These were all questions that I’ve been trying to answer over the past couple of years. As I’m getting closer to graduation (May 2010… seems so far away, but it’s coming quickly!), I’m having to begin to answer those questions. Today, randomly, I had an epiphany and it seemed like everything fell into place in my head.
Now, even as I say that I have “plans,” I’m fully aware that God could throw these out the window at any point in time. However, I think that he already completely changed my plans and that’s why I’m in this program to begin with. So, I feel like these plans are from Him. I also know that things could take shape differently than I expected and I might even end up doing something I hadn’t planned and fall in love with it. I’m open to all of that. But, at this point, I feel like this is the direction in which I am heading and I’m really, really, really ridiculously excited about it! So… here they are…
1. Apply to do my student teaching overseas. U of A has a great program that sets you up for student teaching in a foreign country. So far, Australia, Greece, and Ireland are my top three picks. As long as funds fall into place, this is a definite possibility.
2. Apply to Teach for America or similar program. One of my goals as a future teacher is to reach students who are in impoverished or underprivileged areas. Nothing within me desires to work with the “best of the best” students at Title III schools. Not that there is anything wrong with such schools…. I just don’t want to work there. I also don’t want to work in the worst of the worst – not that my heart isn’t there, but I just don’t feel called there… nor do I have the personality to apply effective classroom management skills in an extremely difficult area. Instead, I’d like to work in a low/low-middle economic class area in a Southern city or rural area. My top three choices for Teach for America (assuming I am recruited) are Charlotte, Eastern North Carolina, and Kansas City.
3. Teach in a 3rd-5th classroom!! Surprisingly, I have gone back and forth with whether or not I actually want to be a classroom teacher. At one time, I thought I wanted to work with home-school organizations and tutoring companies because I love being able to work with individual students. However, I have since realized that I love being in the classroom even more! Though it is definitely a struggle, it’s worth it! I have also discovered that I really prefer the upper grades. I really want to be able to work with students who are ready for more complex math, reading comprehension, and more in-depth material. Ideally, I’d like to work in a 5th grade rotation system where I could let someone else teach reading! 🙂
4. After spending time (5-10 years, maybe) as a regular classroom teacher, I want to go back to school for a masters or Ed.S. where I can specialize in math instruction. I’d eventually like to be a math coach/specialist at an elementary school where I can help current teachers with their instructional methods and also help strugglers. I think that I mostly want to work in the classroom, so becoming a specialist is something I’d like to do towards the end of my career.
So far, that’s all I’ve got. I thought for a long time that in order to be a great teacher, I’d need to work in the worst schools with the worst students and have the worst life possible. But, I’ve since realized that, while admirable, that is not necessarily what I’m called to do. What I’ve noticed lately is that it’s the typical kids who are getting left out… not the strugglers, not the gifted… it’s those who fall in the middle of everything who are losing out. So, I want to shoot straight for the middle.
I’ve got a long road ahead of me but it will be completely worth it. Even though I’m working in my least favorite grade this year (kindergarten), I still absolutely love it. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a child have an “aha!” moment and seeing them grow and develop.