When I first went to college, I was sure that I was going to be a high school history teacher while I worked towards my PhD. That was my plan, and especially at that age, once I had a vision, the blinders went on: It became set in stone.
During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I took the Introduction to Education class – the prerequisite for all the teaching credential classes. It was eye opening. Although the course description talked about the introduction to pedagogy, the whole class focused on discipline in the classroom and why the students might sue the teacher (and why they would win). That was so not me.
Growing up in San Diego, I thought all zoos were like ours. Boy was I wrong! Similarly, I thought my honor student high school experience was the norm. This new information was a shock to the system. Why wouldn’t all the students simply do as they were told? There is a rule: Follow it.
This reality check came at the right time for me, and it ripped my blinders off. I’m proud of myself for getting off that path and not forcing myself to follow through. My personality type is really not a good fit for that profession, especially not me at age 22!
Having had that experience made my recent trip all the more meaningful. I spent last week with an amazing group of people: educators from our country’s urban schools. I have been volunteering with the National Center for Urban School Transformation, and I was honored when they invited me to join them for their annual symposium, held this year in Houston, Texas.
I had the opportunity to meet teachers, principals and superintendents from urban schools across the nation. Some were award winners – exceeding their states’ average test scores – and some were in the process of turning their schools around. All of them worked in schools in regions with high poverty rates (some approaching 100% free breakfast/lunches) in areas where some people have already written off the kids. Yet in these schools, they weren’t biding time and babysitting: Their students were excelling.
I was awed by the commitment of these professionals. Seeing that level of dedication to any cause always inspires me: Knowing that these men and women are affecting thousands of lives and shaping our future generations caused my heart to want to burst with pride. I couldn’t do what they do, which makes me admire them all the more. I will continue to support their efforts through my work with this great organization.
Did you have any career false starts? or Would your personality type work well in front of a K-12 class?