Monday, February 22, 2010

Teaching in the classroom....

Though my family is full of teachers, including my father, who was a college professor, I never had the dream of working in a classroom. Quitting college after the first year, I ran off and got married, and entered the workforce. A few years later, our first child was born, and suddenly it became apparent that teaching was in my blood, whether I admitted it or not. When my children were toddlers, I printed words and pictures identifying objects throughout the house, as some people do when they are learning a new language. My intent was to teach my children word recognition, similar to the early-learning skill of recognizing store signs such as those from McDonald’s and K-mart. When I read to them, I taught them hand signals for words such as “the” without easy phonetic translation, and in this way, they could “read” with me, word by word, even if the only symbol they recognized was that letter grouping. To encourage letter sounds, we played hangman on big chalkboards. Entering kindergarten, all four children were voracious readers, and I had re-enrolled in college, taking occasional courses as time allowed.

While I enjoyed these word games with my children, I still did not consider a degree in education. I was even a volunteer coordinator for the Dauphin County Literacy Council. Friends and teachers from my children’s schools where I volunteered would tell me repeatedly that I was a natural teacher, and that I should consider making that my career when I was ready to go back to work. I demurred, finding focus in my love of art, and ultimately I graduated just this summer with my Bachelor of Art in Art History with a minor in General Computing. However, three years ago a teacher friend of mine enrolled at a university to obtain her Reading Specialist Certification and Masters Degree. I was intrigued. It was at this moment that I began to imagine myself in a classroom. I spoke with my adviser at my university, but an education minor was not available to me. I decided I would have to work toward it after graduation, and here I am today.

Understanding that a Reading Specialist Certification can only come after previous teaching certification, I would love to inspire students to want to embrace language and learning. I worked hard to receive my degree, particularly since I finally received my Associates Degree in 2006 and began completion of my Bachelors. With four children, school, and a job, the past three years have been a joyful challenge to maintain my excellent grades and yet maintain stability at home. I can proudly say that my two oldest children have now entered college, and I would love to be able to help other students make this a reality. I am an encourager, something I used ridicule about myself when I was younger – saying that everyone needed cheerleaders to appreciate their efforts. However, it is only now that I can understand the need to embrace this gift of encouragement and to use it, with my love of language, to help others. 

I will contribute my enthusiasm and my strict work ethic. These traits will be evident in both settings, and will encourage both my peers and my future students to set goals, and enjoy their journeys as they work toward their goals. My circuitous route to this point may have been a long time coming, but I am glad, because I would not have the insight I have now, had I not gone through so much to get here.

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