Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How I Became a Teacher

After reading Abby's post and with it being Teacher Appreciation Day/Week, I am writing about why and how I decided to become a teacher.

Like most kids growing up, I definitely wanted to be a teacher at many points during my life. But I also wanted to be a plethora of other things including a farmer (my sister and I had this whole plan to buy an old barn near our house...and then it got torn down), a librarian (because I wanted to scan and stamp books) and a fashion designer (since I am a fashionista). But I never really felt a true calling for anything or felt that I was destined to do anything. 

I was all set to enter college in Fall 2007 going in undecided and just working on some gen eds until I could figure things out. However, before I started college, I went to Nicaragua with my church on a mission trip to teach a combination of ESL and Vacation Bible School to residents of one of the poorest cities in the country. Two of my good friends were going too so I thought it would be a great time spent with friends. Boy was I wrong. It was a great time, but it was so much more than that. It changed my life.

While there, I developed a love of teaching and giving knowledge to people who don't have it and need it in order to be successful. 

All I wanted to do was help these wonderful people in any way that I could. And the best way for me to do that was to help them learn English. 
We did basic English words like days of the week, colors, numbers, and worked with Biblical stories. Everyone was so hungry to learn.

 I worked with kids and adults and they were some of the kindest, most grateful people I have ever met; they just wanted to learn and absorb everything that they could. Although I was only there for a week, I felt such a calling to pursue education and teaching when I got back to America.

So when I got back to Wisconsin and went to college orientation, instead of doing undecided majors sign up, I went to the School of Education with the pre-education majors. I signed up for classes and got information on applying to the School of Ed. 

After having a tough time with the first three semesters of college, both academically and emotionally, I got my act together and started being more successful and getting decent grades. I started volunteering at a local elementary school as well as joining Jumpstart through Americorps. Jumpstart is a program that sets of college students with preschool "buddies". These preschoolers are at risk for falling behind in kinder so we worked with them on beginning literacy skills.
My adorable Jstart Buddy Luv'ly!

And in the summer of 2009, I was accepted to the School of Ed!! I was so excited that pretty sure I acted like these people: 

I started in the program in Spring 2010, all pumped and ready to learn how to be a teacher! That semester was a rocky one though. I actually withdrew from the program for a day. We had been going on school visits and I just could not believe what I was seeing. I was shocked to see these poor kids learning in environments that were so boring and uninspiring. I felt that it wasn't for me at all and I dropped out of the program. Well, of course, God had other plans and the very next day on our very next school visit, I see an amazing teacher teaching fractions in such a way that was engaging and fun for students! So after frantically calling my advisor  I was able to withdraw my dropping of the program before it went through. 

I continued to go through the rest of the five semester program, having no doubts that I am meant to be a teacher.

I graduated from UW in Spring 2012 and luckily had a job teaching first grade in Phoenix after attending a job fair put on by my school. Evan and I moved down here and it's hard to believe that my first year of teaching is almost over!

Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. I have had lots of teachers from my elementary, middle, and high school teachers to college professors and TAs. Thank you also to my wonderful cooperating teachers who have shaped me into the teacher I am today. Thanks to the wonderful mentor teachers who have shown me the ropes of having my own classroom. 

With Teacher's Appreciation Week, thank you to teachers everywhere for working so hard for the needs of your students. For staying after school late, spending your own money so your students can have a little bit more, for what feels like herding cats, for smiling when you feel like screaming, and for everything else that you do. 

Just remember that although it doesn't always feel like it, you are making a difference in someone's life every day.

Thanks for all you do!

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