When I entered the field of education I had a five year plan which was quickly exceeded due to my determination and commitment to teaching. I entered into the classroom not having the slightest clue about what to expect from my students but I learned very quickly.
I was certified through the Georgia Teacher Alterative Preparation Program (GATAPP) and I was taken aback by the amount of work that I had to do in order to gain my certification. Let’s just be clear, there is a major difference in being traditionally trained through brick and mortar colleges of education and alternative programs.
I want to help new teachers acclimate to teaching and not be overwhelmed by the daily tasks and responsibilities and it is my hope that the lessons I’ve learned along the way will be helpful.
Today I am going to share my experience as I transitioned into teaching and how I found my calling in the classroom. Come along for the journey!
Lesson 1: Transitioning Careers
In the back of my mind even in high school there was a thought that I would become a teacher. I thought that I would major in English when I first went off to college and minor in Spanish because I had big dreams of completing a semester abroad in a Spanish country and broaden my horizons. My educational journey didn’t quite happen that way. I graduated high school in May of 2000, attended the University of Florida for a glorious year (July 2000-April 2001) then took a six year detour in the United States Air Force from August 2001 to August 2007 before ultimately landing in a middle school classroom.
I had big ideas when I first got out of the Air Force but much to my dismay those plans went to the left and I found myself unfulfilled in the civilian sector.
I’m a people person and while at times I can be off by myself rarely interacting with others and enjoying my life when I first got out of the military working for the Georgia Department of Human Services, that career path was not the choice for me. So it made sense to plan an exit while still performing my duties as a Child Support Enforcement Agent. I will be the first to say that the system is not fair and I saw a lot of struggling fathers do the best they could while some fathers simply dropped off the face of the earth.
Some of the noncustodial parents I encountered were decent in their efforts, but the office politics was enough to deter me from this career field and really put my education to work. I knew that in the classroom I must showcase myself as a lifelong learner, and acquiring my master’s degree was a necessity.
I knew that my willingness to continue to learn was heavily influenced by my past teachers, and in transitioning careers, I wanted to give back to students what had been given to me in a positive way.
In my book, My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching I share an experience I had with a middle school teacher and a high school teacher that fed the fuel inside of me to let education be my escape. I learned that education was my stepping stone to a better future and I wanted children to believe in themselves the way I had while matriculating through school.
When I found my way pursuing a teaching career the natural leader in me accepted my calling. Read an excerpt of my journey hear:
Lesson 2: Maintaining Balance When My Life Was Falling Apart
My first three months into teaching looked vastly different from my third year of teaching. And even now here in my 10th year of teaching I’m still learning things but coping with the copious changes and trends in education by the day.
As a new teacher is very easy to become overwhelmed with lesson plans, professional development, additional duties such as being a club sponsor or coaching, but I had to take care of my mental stability at the same time. No one told me that in the beginning there are long hours and none of those hours are paid overtime. No one told me that I would be in a meeting almost daily. And lastly no one told me that I had to learn how to separate my home life from my work life and focus on them one at a time.
Needless to say in my second year of teaching I grappled with separation and divorce and my two young sons were on an insane schedule that shifted them to daycare by 6:30 a.m. while I had to be to school by 7:15 a.m. daily. I cried so much this particular year of teaching but I had to find balance.
I had a school me and I had an at home me. At school I didn’t talk about my personal life with anyone really other than my gracious mentor because I didn’t want pity or for anyone to feel sorry for me. But my face was telling of my troubles at home. At home my sons watched me cry often then wipe the tears away and carry on with my day even though I was screaming on the inside.
I had a job to do and I had to do my job despite my emotions being all over the place. My family was a priority and so was my career. I found my balance in letting go of the things out of my control and let all of the work I was doing speak for itself. My school obstacles became the backdrop to my career which led me to want to help new teachers.
People think teaching is about holidays and summers off. But a lot of times we become second parents to the children we teach and have to fight off jealousy from other teachers in order to be effective. My students always showed up for me because I never not showed up for them.
Lesson 3: I Found My Purpose and Niche
Over the course of the years of teaching, I have acquired multiple degrees. As mentioned I exceeded my five year plan which was to obtain an educational specialist degree. I completed that degree program entering my third year of teaching. I had no educational pedagogy so I wanted to learn more about curriculum, instruction, and assessments. Being a lifelong learner propels my energy to help, teach, speak, and write.
As a blogger and teacher, my journey inside and outside of the classroom has been impactful to those that have sought my help. Writing is my purpose and education/teaching is my niche. My platform is my classroom. And my audience is those that want to hear my stories and follow my career and I surge into a bigger light.
My book, my journey, my transitions in life give me a story to tell and I want to share my story and experiences as often as possible. I am my brand. My career and writings are my baby. New teachers, old teachers, brick and mortar schools and alternative preparation programs need a voice that speaks from experience. I have not degreed myself out of positions. Being a lifelong learned has positioned me to take the stage.
I love teaching and it is in my DNA. Go read a free sample of my journey and share my experiences. My Fourth Year in Middle School: The Truth About Teaching is a worthwhile investment found on Amazon ($4.99 Ebook or $7.99 paperback).
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