Becoming a Teacher

I am guest hosting “My Young Adult Years,” a project to record my youth, over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales today. This is the post I wrote about My Dreams and Aspirations. Please visit Mommy’s Piggy Tales to link up your own story of Your Young Adult Years!

My dream begins early

I don’t remember the moment when I decided to become a teacher. I always loved working with children. When I was in junior high school, I took a babysitting clinic at our public library. I started to babysit a lot. When I babysat, I didn’t page through a magazine or do homework, like some of the babysitters I had as a kid. I played with the kids I babysat. We would run around outside or build towers with Legos. I remember having a dance competition when I babysat a little girl; it was the days when the movie Flashdance was all the rage. She’s a maniac, maniac, on the floor…and she’s dancing like she’s never danced before!

As I got older, I continued babysitting, but I was also asked to tutor a little girl in reading. Since I enjoyed that experience so much, I seriously began to think I should become a teacher.

What’s your major?

I went to a small, private university in Indiana, and I declared my major as soon as I started. I couldn’t wait to get all the general requirements and electives out of the way so that I could start working towards my main objective: Elementary Education. One of those requirements was a basic biology class. The professor liked me, and he offered me a lab assistant job. My job was to prep for labs and assist the students during labs. I was a lab aide for three years, and during that time I became intimate with the innards of a fetal pig, learned the secrets of photosynthesis, and set up hands-on quizzes for biology students. When it was time to watch the movie of a child being born, I had to check on the students who were looking as if they might faint. While I never earned much more than pocket money, this job reinforced my dream of becoming a teacher.

My roommate catches me in the act of writing a paper.
Notice the deep thinking I am doing!

A sacrifice is made

As I began to take education classes, I decided I wanted to study more than just elementary education. I also wanted to become knowledgeable in teaching children with special needs. I began to work toward an endorsement in learning disabilities. As part of my endorsement, I would have to take special education classes and then student teach in both a regular classroom and a special education classroom. Taking those extra classes would push my student teaching to the second semester of my senior year.

However, I had a conflict. Since I would be student teaching during the second semester, I would have to teach during the university’s spring break. Throughout my years in college, I sang with the Concert Choir, which, as the name says, gave concerts. During spring break, Concert Choir would travel and tour different areas of the country to perform. If I student taught second semester, I would be unable to tour. And if I was unable to tour, I couldn’t be in Concert Choir. I had to make a choice.

While singing was very important to me, I felt like my chosen career was more important. I had to give up Concert Choir. I was very unhappy that I had to give up choir that year.

Challenges arise

I did not have a car. Somehow, I had to find my way to schools for observations and student teaching. While not having a car made me very nervous, the education department did a great job of matching students without cars with students who did have cars. I met one of my best friends while carpooling to school for student teaching. After graduation, I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, and many years later, she brought her husband and their twins to my wedding.

When I was student teaching, I had three roommates who were not education majors. This caused some stress for me during my last semester. One of my roommates would constantly snack on my lunch supplies. I told her over and over again, “This is for my lunch at school! I can’t run out and buy a lunch!” (There was a field of white, woolly sheep next to the school I taught in. They weren’t about to share their clover.)

College students keep late hours, but I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to get to school on time. After a full day of teaching, I wanted to be in bed by 10:00 p.m., but my roommates had a hard time understanding why I needed to go to bed so early. One of my roommates spent the night talking on the phone to her boyfriend. She would sequester herself in our bedroom so she could have privacy, and then get mad when I wanted to go to bed. There were no cell phones and no cordless phones. She would sit out in the hallway, the door cracked to let the phone cord out, and I would lie in bed trying to get to sleep.

I reach my goal

Despite it all, I loved student teaching. I loved getting to know the third grade students I taught. When I started teaching in a learning disabilities resource room for sixth grade, I loved the small groups I led. Student teaching was over way too soon for me; I wanted to stay in those classrooms until the end of the year to send those students on to the next grade.

However, it was also my turn to go on to the next step. I was on my way to becoming a real teacher. I graduated in 1991 with a degree in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Learning Disabilities. The true challenges were still ahead of me, and I had much to learn.

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8 Responses to Becoming a Teacher

  1. I wanted to comment all week, but have not had the chance. I have been so discouraged this week and your post encouraged me. I have been working with a student, for the last 2 1/2 yrs., that I highly suspect has Aspergers. This week it got the best of me and then God sent me your post. I can't wait to see where God took you from here! I remember many times seeing friends sitting in the hall, under the phone, tethered to the wall because it was corded. Those were the days! I used a manual typewriter at first, but was so thankful for those electric typewriters! It was so nice not to wear my fingers to the core pressing down so hard to type. Looking forward to next week.

  2. Love how determined you were! I had a big ol' electric typewriter for my papers, too. Looking forward to reading more.

  3. I also sang in my college's choir, and had to sacrifice a lot as my nursing major took up a LOT of time! This is wonderful of you to record your journey like this- you seem to have a true calling for teaching!

  4. I admire teachers so much! I was a music ed major in undergrad and while I survived my student teaching I decided that the classroom was not for me! Thank you for stopping by my blog & making my SITS day great!

  5. Love the photo at the typewriter! I remember those days (usually I'd wait until the 11th hour to finish a paper to hand into a professor.) My hubby is in education, and here in WI things are getting tougher with larger and larger classes and less support. Cheers for doing work in the trenches!

  6. It's a rare college student these days who knows right from the get go what direction they're taking and sticks with it. Very cool!

  7. I did some babysitting (mostly at night when the children were (supposed to be) asleep) and have even thought about becoming a teacher. I chose German, but in the end I didn't do it (can't stand teenagers). Good for you for sticking with it and you sound like a proper committed teacher!

  8. Good for you for becoming a teacher, you should be proud of yourself. And to have a heart for children with learning disabilities too.BTW, just look at the size of that typewriter! Too funny compared to the size of our little laptops now.

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