After my last post Anne commented and said,
"Sarah, someday I want you to blog about what drew you to teaching. I'm not trying to sound like a jerk here...seriously what makes people want to go into that profession. It's not something that I think I could handle, but maybe it's really not all that bad?? And what's worse, the disrespectful kid or that kid's parents? I'm trying to have a good relationship with Corine's teacher; I just hope that she doesn't think that I'm trying to be a suck up."
Here's my answer:
A total lack of imagination.
When I went into college I had no idea what I wanted to do. First semester I tried to just figure out which classes to register for and then how to find them on a daily basis. The second semester I learned from my bad grades that I needed to take more classes that I could reasonably expect to get a good grade in. After that, I chose reading and writing courses because those were my favorite and I'm not one to delve into anything new or difficult if I don't have to, so I stuck with those kinds of classes.
Around the second semester of my second year I figured out that I was on an English major track, which was fine with me but what does a person do with an English degree? It's not the most practical degree a person can get and it's not something a person goes into if they want to have any money, because it turns out people don't want to pay other people for reading literature or writing poems. So I had to decide what I was going to DO with this worthless degree, so in my third year I decided that I could be a teacher. They have jobs that pay money, right? Sure, why not. I've had teachers, my parents were teachers. This wasn't something I was going into totally blind. I figured I could do it.
I got into the secondary education program and had a great time taking the classes. I made some good friends and we mercilessly made fun of the other kids in all our classes. (Pete, remember the "withering?") Then I finished and had to student teach.
I HATED student teaching. I taught under two teachers. One was a matronly woman who saw me as her assistant/slave and herself as my taskmaster. The other one was a big, grumpy man who wanted me to teach his classes following his lesson plans EXACTLY, which worked for him because he was old and loud and intimidating, but not so well for me who was young and quiet and infectiously beautiful and charming. It was a total trainwreck. When I wasn't slaving away for the lady I was having meetings with the man, all of which started with him taking off his glasses and rubbing his face like he was totally exasperated and out of ideas when it came to making me a good teacher.
I was in big trouble. I hated teaching. I hated the teachers, the administrators, the parents, and many of the kids.
One day during the man's class which I was teaching, there was one girl named Crystal who came into class, sat down and buried her face in her arms. When I told the kids to open their books to the story we were reading, she didn't. Mr. Grumpy told me to go make her do it. I went up to her and quietly asked her to open her book. From under her arms she said "Please don't." Okay. I let it go. Mr. G. was super pissed that she wasn't following directions, but I had a feeling that this was a battle not to be fought at that time. I was right. Later on that semester, that girl started to open up to me and told me that the day she wouldn't open her book was the day her step-dad showed up in the lunch room and made a big scene and she said she couldn't really pull herself together enough to read a story with the class. I was right! Mr. G. was wrong! That was the point at which I thought that maybe I had some talent for this job.
After I finished with college I applied all over the place for jobs and didn't get anything. Then at the last minute I got a part-time job in the Falls teaching English at the new alternative school. I loved it! I loved having my own classroom and being able to run it the way I wanted. I loved the kids too. But I was SO naive back then. I remember one day a kid came into my room after class and told me that if he didn't pass his classes, he was going to have to go to "juvie" and he really didn't want to go to juvie. I realize now that it was a not-so-veiled threat (he was playing with a pocket-knife at the time) and I didn't even realize it! He kept creeping closer to me telling me how important it was for him to pass and I said, "You won't pass unless you come to class and do your work! And put that knife away, you're going to cut yourself!" He was at a loss and just left. He didn't pass. I had him in class again several years later when I worked at the jail.
So in answer to your question, Anne, I sort of fell into it and have grown to like it more every year. I like kids more every year, anyway. That helps a lot.
And I'm a total masochist.
If I could go back and do it over I'd be a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld. Or a park ranger. Or a mailman. (I love to sort)
Okay internet friends, if you've gotten to the bottom of this overly-long post I want to know what made you choose the path you've taken in life? If you could go back and do it all over, what would you do differently? Can't wait to read your answers!
p.s. And Anne, Corine's teacher totally thinks you are trying to suck up. Just kidding! She probably doesn't!
(yes she does)