It was a Monday night in early July. The kids were in bed, and Alissa and I were talking. The conversation rambled here and there. We talked about our jobs a bit, and the kids, of course. We were just settling into a summer that had started off in a manner that was anything but relaxing, owing to a nasty sewer problem, but that was all in the past.
The day before had been a little crazier than normal. As is probably relatively common, our church asks people who don’t normally volunteer in children’s ministries to take a turn or two during the summer in order to give the regulars a break. Alissa had taken a couple of turns in the preschool room in order to do her part. That same Sunday, I had been taking my normal turn teaching tweens and middle schoolers.
At one point, in our meandering conversation, Alissa looked at me questioningly. “Hey, why don’t you get a summer break?”
Given the gravity of my answer, I probably should have taken at least a little time to respond. I didn’t. In fact my answer was out of my mouth before I even thought about it.
“I don’t want one.”
Alissa sat up, shifting from relaxed to alert. “Maybe we should do something about that.”
The conversation was no longer meandering across the plains of post bedtime debriefing. Rather, it was suddenly rushing through a canyon of purposeful processing to rapidly climax in a cascade of decision.
By the time we went to bed, the decision was all but made. I was going to be a teacher.
More accurately, I was going to seriously look into what needed to happen for me to become a teacher and, barring the identification of some impossible barrier right at the outset, I was going to start taking the steps necessary to put myself in a classroom. (There are quite a few of those, by the way.)
The idea of me becoming a teacher is not a new one. Obviously, it has revolved about me teaching “secondary or college” history or social studies. I would be doing something that has meaning and that I am passionate about. Nobody I’ve told has even blinked at the idea of me as teacher. For some reason, the kids are excited at the prospect.
The next day, found me poking around the internet at lunch to see what I could find in terms of teaching programs, just to see what I was facing. I found an information session scheduled for that very afternoon in West Seattle. Incidentally, I am terribly unfamiliar with West Seattle, as I found out after arranging for the kids to be picked up from camp by a friend. But, I made it.
That particular session was for a very exciting looking UW program. Unfortunately, it involved not getting paid for a year. Clearly I was in need of something that would let me keep my job. as long as possible.
Still, the ball was rolling. Research led to an inquiry. Inquiry led to a meeting. The meeting led to an “Approved Plan of Study” for getting endorsements in History and English Language Arts.
Apparently, a lot of middle schools put English and History or Social Studies in a single block that you need both endorsements to teach. I was surprised by how excited I became at the prospect of teaching English.
It amazes me how much there is to do before even applying for admission to the program I’m seeking out. There are about 9 undergrad classes I need for my endorsement, 7 of which are history and literature. They are not the easiest to find such classes that are a) not on weekdays and b) eligible for Finanicial Aid, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got most of a plan figured out.
There are tests to take and transcripts to retrieve. Not all of it has gone smoothly, but the pieces have begun to fall together. .
I was told that some volunteer experience would strengthen my application. I was surprised at how long it took to set that up, but once I began observing a junior high history class (as well as math, English and science classes), I knew that I was on on the right track. I was impressed with the dedication of the teachers and the insightfulness of the students, and I find myself eagerly anticipating Thursdays when I can step back into the classroom.
As for those classes? Well, those start next week. I’ll be taking Pacific Northwest History, Intro to Communication, and 20th Century US History, and I’m chomping at the bit to get started. I eagerly await the arrival of my books and keep checking the online class interface hoping for something…a syllabus, a message from the professor, anything… to pop into the empty fields.
Of course I’m nervous. Will I be able to pull all this off? Will I be a better student now than I was in my undergraduate days? Can I write well enough to pass a test? Is this the right journey for me?
Yes, I’m nervous, but in the best possible way.
Just a couple of weeks prior to that Monday night, it was my turn to share my story with our church small group. One of my concluding remarks was that I was still unsure what I wanted to do when I grew up, even at 42. Still, I’ve always known that there is something more in store for me than what I’m doing, something more meaningful.
I was right.