Monday, January 16, 2012

When I grow up, I want to be a ....

elementary classroom teacher, hopefully with a focus on ESL!

When I came to Spain, my biggest hope was that I'd know what I want to do when I go back to the States. Most of my family and friends who knew about the trip knew that my goal was to become bilingual, and I'm not sure how that will go. (grammar is my downfall, but I'm learning a ton, and getting better, so keep hoping!) What I didn't tell anyone was that I was hoping this year would show me if I could really be a teacher. After graduating with an education degree, I was incredibly frustrated with teaching in traditional classrooms. I absolutely adore my summer camp teaching job, but even then, I worried that I was only good at it because it was summer camp. I loved teaching preschool too, but I knew that it wasn't a option for me to continue at that school since I'll be moving to Oklahoma. Basically, I doubted my ability to teach in a traditional classroom, and the doubt was eating away at my desire to be a teacher.

Thankfully, Spain has basically shown me how much I desire to be a teacher. I want my own classroom of students. I want to get to know them, make connections, help them grow, and learn how to best teach them. I want to help students who don't have the easiest time. I want to teach. Even if I am not bilingual, I want to teach ESL in elementary school. I would love to have kindergarten or first grade, so that I could help them catch up to "normal" students and see them succeed. Having felt the isolation that comes when you can't understand what's being said around you, it gives me new empathy for ESL students. I don't want them to feel alone. I want to be on their side, and be there to help them learn and grow.

I read this article, and it was so exciting for me to see the thoughts that I've had written by someone who is much more informed and much better at writing than I am. I think the idea of TFA is great, and I think most people who do it have the best intentions, but I don't think that it's how we'll "fix" education in the States. But here's the thing- I have thoughts and ideas about how to fix it. My greatest passion is to make science and math fun and interesting for students. I can be part of the solution. I don't need TFA to do that. I've been prepared to change the future, and now I am finally ready to accept that mission.

This is a long way of saying that I want to teach elementary school in low-SES or urban areas and work with the students that are usually written off by society. I don't care if it means I work more hours for less pay. I would rather make a difference in someone's life then make it rich. I know that I'm choosing a hard road, but I think that it will pay off in the end. I was talking to Tom about being the lead teacher for my 6th graders in English and bilingual science today, and in the conversation I said something that is totally powerful for me, since I tend to believe that I need to always be a perfect teacher:

"it may not be perfect, but its the best i can do"

Exactly! It only took me 2 years to come to this realization on my own. I know that I am not by any means done learning about teaching, but I finally feel ready to begin my journey as a teacher. I can't wait to see where I get to go with this. I've got a dream school that I'm hoping for, so if I could get a job there, I'd take any grade level, but I'd love pre-k to first grade. Those kids just make me smile.

And for those of you wondering, I still do have a desire to pursue a Master's degree in Museum Education or Museum Studies. But that's going to take some time, and until then, I want to be the very best teacher I can be. And when I have that degree, I want the same thing, only with a slightly different setting. Can't wait to get started with it all!

1 comment:

  1. wow. Powerful. Thanks for sharing something so close to your heart and yet I imagine hard to share. I can tell it came from your heart because it's so well written.

    I'm happy for you that Spain has helped you gain insight on your path. I know that you are capable of whatever you put your mind too.

    I think as teachers, we must always remember that we can only do our best. Doing our best is as close to perfect as we can get. Perfect is only an illusion. There are so many variables in a classroom that to expect ourselves to be perfect is an almost impossible goal.