Musings on Teaching  

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A couple of months after my wedding in 2002, I was laid off from my job. It was a blessing in disguise. I was doing data entry at a health insurance company, and I was hating my job. However, I knew the people and what was required of me - I'd been there seven years - and I was scared to go find something else. It was the kick in the pants I needed to get out of there.

However, eight months later, I still didn't have a job. I wasn't getting any interviews, and I was starting to get to the end of my unemployment. A friend of mine who taught kindergarten had me come visit her class a few times, as I had thought I might like working in a classroom setting. I had no experience working with kids, and didn't even have a child of my own at the time, but I enjoyed it. Soon after that, she told me that they were hiring instructional assistants (like teacher's aides) where her mother worked. Her mother was a special education teacher working with multiply disabled children. I didn't think I had a shot at the job, but I went in for an interview. I remember the interview was showing me around a few classrooms being used for their summer program. There were children with all kinds of disabilities in all kinds of strange equipment. I wasn't familiar with the setting. The supervisor basically asked me, "Do you think you can handle it?" I needed a job and so I said, "yes." I was hired. I began as an IA a few months later in an elementary school classroom. By the end of the year, we would have 1 teacher, 1 nurse, 4 IAs including me, and 8 multiply disabled children in wheelchairs. It was a large group. It was crazy. I fell in love with the children, and by the end of the year I was thinking I'd like to go back to school so I could teach them.

My thoughts were put on hold slightly while I was pregnant with Paige. After her birth in February 2005, I started thinking about it again. As I already had my BA, I was eligible to take one of the state tests for teachers. I passed. I told my boss, and she told me that a teaching position had opened up at the summer program if I wanted it. I took it. Paige was 5 months old.

During that summer, I learned that a school year teaching position had opened up. Ironically, it was for the same classroom where I had started two years before. I applied for the position and got it. I started my first year teaching September 2005. Paige was 7 months old.

I was teaching on what is called a "waiver" - kind of like a "hardship waiver" for a position that is difficult to fill. However, if I wanted to become a licensed teacher, I needed to go back to school to get my Master's in Severe Special Education. So, that same month that I started my first teaching job, only a few months into becoming a mother of my first child, I went back to school. It had been 10 years since I'd graduated with my BA.

This past December I finished my student teaching - my last requirement for school. I am going to graduate with my Master's in Severe Special Education in a couple of weeks. I can't believe that I've finished. It has been a crazy couple of years, becoming a mom, a teacher, and a student again all at once. However, it has been a very interesting journey. I've found that things I learn on the job in the classroom help me to be a better mom, and things I've learned on the job as a mom help me to be a better teacher.

My diploma was mailed to me in February. However, I had the option of going to the ceremony in May, which I decided to do. I want all the pomp and circumstance! I ordered my cap and gown and they showed up about a week ago. I tried them on for Paige and she laughed at me. "Take off that hat Momma!" she giggled. I asked her if she wanted to wear it, and she said no. It is amazing to see how much she's changed just in the time I've been in school.

Here she is in September 2005.

And here she is in March 2008.

I can't believe she's gotten so big and that I'm all done with school. It all seems very surreal. :)

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