Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Real Reason for Teaching

Okay, normally I am a pretty laid back person. It takes quite a bit to get me riled up, but tonight is one of those times. So please excuse me as I get on my soapbox.

I was reading this story on Yahoo! news titled "20 Worst Paying College Degrees in 2010" because I knew they were going to include education jobs and I wanted to see what they had to say about it. It's your typical "Don't major in these areas because your salary will suck" story. Then I moved down to the comments section - bad idea. The first thing I read was this jewel of wisdom:

"Yeah, teaching is so hard. That must be why it's the favored career path for head cheerleaders and "mean girls". I guess you can't leave school mentally, Peter Pan. I bet you volunteer to chaperone the junior high dances, living vicariously through today's twelve year olds. Yeah. Challenging career."

That was then followed by this:

"Exactly! This is the real world, come out and live in it."

I wanted to respond to those comments but decided not to on the page. So here is my response to these fine gentlemen and their nuggets of wisdom.

Oh My Gosh! Thank you two for explaining to me why I'm a high school history teacher! I didn't understand my reasons until now! Wow, I thought I became a teacher because I have a passion for my subject and for the job. I thought that I was a teacher because I love seeing a student's eyes light up when they understand a difficult question or problem. I truly enjoyed going into the classroom every day with activities that excite my students and make them want to learn history, but now I know that I was only lying to myself. The real problem is I just can't grow up. I am socially stunted and only want to live out my teen fantasies through my students. Everything makes so much more sense now!

Get over yourselves! Get your head out of the sand and realize that people (men as well as women) go into teaching because that is what they are passionate about. I cannot stand the self-pretentious people, such as yourselves, who claim that education is a soft major and an easy job. It's not easy. I can attest to that fact right now as I am going through my new teacher orientation and realizing that I am not as prepared as I want to be. My job does not consist of just standing in front of the class and feeding the students information. I have to actively monitor the students to make sure they understand what I am trying to teach them. I have to make my lessons interesting. I have to integrate technology into my classroom to accommodate the current generation of students who have grown up in a technologically savvy world. I have to set up a plan of classroom management, implement it, and then make sure I enforce it fairly. I have to keep an eye on my students to make sure they are doing okay mentally and emotionally. I have to deal with parents who don't care and parents who don't know how to let go.

I do all of this because I love teaching. I don't do it for the salary or the recognition or because it's popular.

Teachers are dismissed and looked down upon by many in our country. Enough! Teachers deserve respect for their profession - it's not as easy as it looks, as I tried to demonstrate above, and people need to recognize that. We are living in the real world and are trying to prepare today's students to live in it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Start of a New Year

Okay, so it's been a while since I last wrote. I apologize and am currently trying to think of a good excuse. I did go on vacation with the family last week, so that's one thing but that's the only one. Vacation was great, a nice break from life and also an amazing break from the oppressive heat of my home state. It felt so great up in the mountains I almost didn't want to come home. But home is where family, friends, my significant other, and potential job opportunities are.

Speaking of potential job opportunities, I had a fantastic lead dropped in my lap a couple of weeks ago. One day I sent out almost one hundred emails to principals in districts I had applied to asking if there were any job openings. That night I heard back from one of the principals in the district where I am currently employed as a sub - he said that he might have a position opening up in the next week. I was pretty excited about that lead and then it got better. The day after I got the email I got a call from the department chair of a local high school (I'm going to nickname it Pan High) saying they had a job opening. To make a long story short, about fifteen minutes after the first phone conversation I was on the road to my first interview in months. It went really well - I felt like I impressed the principal and the department chair and they really sold Pan High to me.

The department chair said she would try to reach me next week about what was going on with the position. So that lead to a week of freaking out every time the phone rang and also when it didn't. Then on Thursday I got an email saying they would make their final decision on Wednesday. More waiting and worrying. Wednesday rolls around and I nearly jump out of my skin every single time the phone rings. Finally, I decided to call the department chair and see what was going on. She said they had decided on who they wanted to fill the position, had sent it on the HR, and they would call that lucky person late that afternoon or the next morning. More waiting - I feel so bad for my family and my SO because they had to put up with my neurotic self while I panicked about if I got the job or not. By yesterday morning, I hadn't gotten a phone call and I was beginning to think I didn't get the job. So I figured I would check my email and see if someone sent me a consolation email. There was an email.

The HR rep for Secondary Ed had sent me an email saying that I had been recommended for the Social Studies position at Pan High. I was bouncing off the walls of my apartment when I read that! After over eight months of looking for a job and disappointment after disappointment, I had finally been offered a position. It's at an incredible school, I think I'm going to love the staff, and I'm just so excited to know what I'm going to be doing come the start of school.

I spent the rest of yesterday morning talking to people in HR about what I would need to do next week, calling family to let them know the good news, and calling the principal and department chair to thank them for recommending me. I found out that today is my last official day of summer and starting Monday I get to spend the next couple of weeks in meetings and inservice. My sweet little sister and her awesome roommate have already offered to help me set up my classroom, which is going to be a big help. I actually get to see my classroom tomorrow, when I go to help the department chair clean it up and dig through the old posters to see which ones I want to keep. I'm extremely excited about getting to see my room! I need to figure out how much space I'm going to have on the walls and how I might set up the desks. Definitely looking at a very busy week coming up.

Now I'm a little nervous about the school year, planning lessons and meeting my students. This is going to be the hardest year for me since it's my first, but I think it's going to be a great one.