I graduated from college and applied to a few districts, well two for sure though there may have been others. I’m not sure if it was naivete that led me to thinking that was all I needed or simply that I had student taught in those districts and already had a comfort level with them. Now I apply everywhere because I am not that naive and I’m more confident in my skills and abilities to teach and find my place in a school. As I graduated in December there were very few teaching positions and the substitute list had already been filled. I took a temp job while I waited to continue looking. I was fortunate in March to be called for a Title 1 assistant position. I worked with 13 students one on one improving their reading.
Over the summer I went on a few interviews but always got the call that they went another way, usually with someone with more experience. This left me frustrated as I simply did not understand how they I could get the experience they clearly wanted me to have without someone hiring me so I could get experience. What I see now is that principals want someone who has been a classroom assistant or substitute who has covered whole classes, in other words they have some whole class experience beyond their student teaching. This makes sense to me now but what did I know then. LOL
I continued in my Title 1 assistant position for another year, and being an early reader it was probably one of the best ways I could have started my career in education. I never had to really pay attention in reading/English classes the way I did in science or math to learn how to do it. I didn’t know how to help struggling readers. Fortunately in that position we had weekly trainings, I walked away from the job so much better prepared to work with struggling readers. That summer I taught summer school my first “classroom.” Again I interviewed, I was even offered a position but due to the way the salary would have to be split from different sources the district didn’t approve and I was back to my T1 job.
Then about a week into the school year I received a call for an interview, a middle school interview. I went in the next day at 7:30 a.m., at 12:30 that afternoon I got the call offering me the job and telling me to report to that building the next day. I went in and met with the communication arts curriculum coordinator who gave me the enormous curriculum binder and walked me through what I needed: sixth grade com arts and sixth grade challenge com arts. I met the other sixth grade teachers and was happy to see a familiar face. One of the SpEd teachers was a girl I knew from high school; we had played volleyball together our freshman year.
I went home with the material know that when I went back on Tues (it was Labor Day weekend) I would start teaching. Anxiety struck, I was in a panic no idea what to do. My husband asked me what was wrong. I told him I had no idea how I was going to do this, this is not what I’d trained for. I had, still have but you know when writing in past tense 😉 and Early Childhood degree, all of my field experiences and student teaching had been in the younger grades K-3. I hadn’t even been in a fourth or fifth grade classroom for more than a few hours observing. He looked at me and said “You can do this! You’re a teacher!” Not sure if it was because he was so emphatic or if it was simply his belief in me but I could suddenly breathe again. I sat down and started to write out lesson plans.
Tuesday morning I went to work, stood up in front of the class, introduced myself, let each of the students introduce themselves, then began teaching. I think the moment it really hit me that I had reached my goal, that I was a classroom teacher was when I was able to answer the first student question, well that and the starfish pin but that’s another story.
Ok so teachers reading this, what’s your story? When did you realize you were really a teacher? Anyone else, what about you and your career, what was that I’ve done it, I’ve made it moment for you?