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?
6 thoughts on “Educational Leanings”
Teaching is really tough. I should know, I just got done earning my Master’s degree in education. It would be nice if all students just did as they were told and to be honest, most do. It’s those 2-3 in each class that are hard to handle that make classes difficult. If you’re only temporary such as a substitute teacher, they’re even worse. No one will do what they’re told. It’s definitely not a profession for just anyone.
Thank you for doing such a challenging and vital job! I’m so glad I didn’t force myself into a bad fit and take a spot from someone who was truly meant to be there.
I have been a high school teacher for thirteen years…it is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done (next to being a parent). But like Steve said, there are absolutely rewards. It is not for the faint of heart, for sure. Some days I feel like I do the greatest thing in the world; others, I am sure that I should have been something else. I think with such an emotionally-charged position, though, that’s bound to happen. You are “on” all the time – you have to be. Not to make it sound like it’s drudgery. It isn’t. But the reality is that there is always “that kid” but sometimes it’s because they need something and it’s a cry to notice. I can honestly say that my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. But not every job is for every person – we all have our niche. Figuring out what it is takes time. I came to teaching late – if someone had presented me with that option at 22 I would never have considered it. I made a choice to teach many years later. Worked for me.
Lisa, good for you for having the courage to change career streams. I’m glad to hear that your teaching experience has been overwhelmingly positive. While I am definitely not the same person that I was at 22, in speaking with all those wonderful educators, I know it is still not something I would excel at. I commend everyone who can stand up there every day and thrive and inspire the students to learn. Thank you.
What an inspiring trip, indeed! Hats off and hearts out to people/teachers who work with those kids and give them hope and skills, education and caring that they probably wouldn’t get anywhere else. I think you deserve a “well done” too for getting off the track when it didn’t seem right to you/for you. Oh and, by the way, kudos to you too, Tammy, for the volunteer work you do in urban school transformation. That’s such important work too!
Thanks, Barb. I was so amazed when I spoke with the teachers what a difference it made when the they explained to the students that something was important and expected them to do better. Mindset alone makes such a huge difference. I wish I was as inspiring as those instructors are to their students.
At one of the schools I got to visit, the principal addressed by name every student she passed. This school has 2500 students! The transformation at most of these turn-around schools starts at the top. It was remarkable to see it in action.