I've been writing this post in my head for a month now. I disappeared from blog-land temporarily, but it was for fantastic reasons. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my career as a teacher. This month I feel like all my hard work and the many struggles to bring me where I am today have finally brought me to a wonderful place.
What am I doing? Wait, that didn't take 30 minutes and you're all done in 10? Hold on this little thing takes an hour??
I was fresh out of college and teaching in a rough part of Phoenix at a fantastic school with amazing staff members and mentors. I loved having my own class, but there were definitely a few kinks to work out. I also went to bed at 8:30 almost every night. I spent many evenings on my living room floor with my roommate as I convinced her to help me color and cut out laminated centers activities. I also learned that while I became a general ed teacher, I really liked working with the ED kids (emotionally disabled) as they were mainstreamed into my class.
So you want to teach 2nd grade again? Too bad we need you in 1st grade and you're the newbie so you don't get a choice. Do you know what happened? I fell in LOVE with first grade! I started to get my bearings as to who I wanted to be as a teacher and lesson planning only sometimes took forever and ever.
I love my school! Can I just take it back to Cali with me?? This was a lovely year for me professionally, but my life outside of school took a sad turn. It's funny how the path you think you're on can suddenly change and you think it's for the worst, but it ends up leading you some place wonderful.
Back to Cali, Cali, Cali! I'm from the Bay Area and the center everything exciting: city life, wine country, beaches, and the tech capital of the world. Sadly, I got here when the economy crashed and there was a shortage of teacher jobs thanks to budget cuts. It was impossible to get a public school job that year. Thanks to Craigslist (weird, I know) I got a job at a private school for high functioning kids on the autism spectrum. These kids always held a special place in my heart and I was so excited to work with them. I taught "lower elementary" which meant 1st/2nd grade with varying diagnoses of high functioning kiddos.
Why didn't I go into special ed to begin with? Well, who says I can't? Time to get my Master's degree! I basically stopped having a life for a year as I taught kids with autism all day and went to grad school at night. After a lot of stress headaches it was totally worth it! I had my second degree and credential. Those kids I taught? Still love them!
What do you mean grad school is over? I'm not good at being lazy, so why don't I go to Stanford and get my CLAD (English language learner) certification? I still had a great group of kids with 1 that worked my every nerve, mostly because I had little to no support with a kid with much higher needs than our school could handle. This was the year I learned you can love every kid, but not every kid belongs in the same class with only 1 teacher in the room.
Did you know it's possible to teach 3 grade levels at once all day, every day...for an entire year? Neither did I! But somehow I survived. I had great kids, but with 2 kindergarteners, 1 genius, 1 first grader, and 1 second grader... teacher life wasn't easy. Thankfully they all had fantastic families who made my life a million times easier. By the end of the year I was fried and decided it was time to move on to new professional experiences.
My dream job is available?! And I'm hired?! Yes! So all those years of teaching kids with autism needs to shift into an expert in dyslexia? Ok, sure no problem. I got this. It was also the first year I ever had a teaching partner and had to share my classroom, which was an interesting experience, but we made it work. I learned what it's like to expand my skills to more than just teaching kids. I was given wonderful new opportunities including teaching a seminar about dyslexia to parents and educators.
Do I want to go back to school for certification #4?? Sure! Why not? My school enrolled me in the Wilson Certification program which is a full year worth of coursework and practicum. Did I mention I had a class full of rambunctious boys who were never described as "quiet" or "mellow" ever? Thank goodness my new teaching partner and I became even closer friends than we already were. What doesn't kill a team makes it stronger! And yes a boss said in the middle of a staff meeting "Thanks for not walking out on us this year." Little did he know this was no where near my worst year teaching. Those were years 6 and 7 for sure!
I get to go on my first business trip? How fun! Dyslexia conference in San Diego here I come!
TEACHER NERDS UNITE!
Midyear... want to become an instructional coach? Sure! Why not?! That sounds fun, but can I keep teaching? I don't really want to be an administrator. I'm a teacher because I like teaching kids! I don't ever intend to stop that. Oh, and by taking on that role I'm in charge of the Tech Team? Sure, why not?! I'm a teacher, blogger, and TPT teacher who uses tech all the time. I could manage that. The last day of school was such a relief as all my hard work paid off and I received my Wilson Certification!! Yay me! Two college degrees and a total of 4 certifications! Wow! When did that all happen?
So begins my 10th year of teaching... and where has it taken me? I'm now a special ed teacher, instructional coach, and the leader of the Tech Team at school. I have also been tutoring students outside of school which has been a new adventure that I didn't plan on, but when fantastic families with adorable kids ask, I just can't say no.
If you had told me during Year 1 what would be happening in Year 10, I never would have believed you! I never dreamed all my hard work would suddenly come together so smoothly and lead to so many amazing opportunities. I feel like this past month I've come to realize that all of my career ambitions have all come true. I can honestly say I don't know what will come next, nor for the first time ever I don't know what I'm aiming for. The sky is the limit from here. Time to embrace my role as instructional coach and build on my craft. I don't know what the future will hold, and I'm okay with that.