Well, it started. I’ve been meaning to start chronicling this journey for a few months now, but life is life. Obligations, hopes, dreams… things get in the way- sometimes wonderfully, sometimes horribly- but life goes on.
Leaving Teaching for School
Going from being a teacher to being back in the classroom makes me think about the old maxim about doctors making the worst patients. It’s true enough for teachers, too. As an educator, I’m looking through the curriculum provided by UCertify courses and rolling my eyes… these things are terrible- from a pedagogical standpoint. From the standpoint of giving someone the tools to pass a certification test, nah- they’re spot-on. Plenty of rote memorization and acronyms and mnemonics- a mile wide and an inch deep.
I was good at teaching. Not the best, certainly not the most creative or the most hippyish… few students would call me their favorite while they were in my classroom, and none came looking to me for a hug… but when it came down to imparting content and pushing students to succeed, I was great. If you had hopes that your kid was going to college, you wanted them in my classroom. You knew I’d push, you knew they’d grow, and you knew I wouldn’t take any excuses. Long story short, they’d be ready for high school when they got out of 8th grade English. No, more than high school. They’d be ready for college.
But I was bad at some things. I was tough- sometimes too tough- on the parents. If your son or daughter had a behavior problem, I was going to call you and talk to you about it, fully expecting you to have a conversation with your child. Hell, I picked up a good deal of Spanish just to be able to pass that information along (Did I mention 80% of my career was in minority-majority Title I schools?).
“Su hijo estada hablando mucho con amigos in clase hoy. Tienes detention con tutorillas despues escuela manana para cuatro a cinco. Como puede ir a la cas despues detention?”
There’s enough cognates in there for you to figure out what I was trying to say, but it wasn’t perfect. Still, many students came to school the next day after getting the ‘chancla’ acting much better, and our time in tutoring/detention after school was productive enough to make up the work. Students sure hated it when the ‘gringo’ teacher called. Parents seemed to appreciate it, though. Especially the ones who worked a lot.
However, if you were one of the parents that blew me off, the calls didn’t stop. If you persisted, so did I. I’d knock on your door, often with a school attendance specialist or another teacher that was having issues. I was ruthless… and before you go bleeding your heart all over my nice teacher sneakers about the parents working multiple jobs, those parents always loved my devotion. It was the upper-middle-class white soccer moms or the layabouts that hated my visits. I made few friends in administration, but I didn’t care. I was helping kids.
So Why Leave?
I could complain endlessly about the pay, the politics, the inane tasks they’d set us to that distracted from success in the classroom… I could go on and on about lazy colleagues, incompetent bosses, the attitude of the parents… I suppose I could complain about the kids and their attitudes; but the kids were just being kids, and I never minded a little ‘tude from a 13 year old.
My mindset changed when I had one of my own. We’ll call him “Danger.” He’s my world, my everything, and I have to give him the best. His mom and I are committed to ensuring he has the best life, and there’s a lot of us submitting to the other in our fields of expertise. Mom is a level head and anything to do with the doctor. Mine, of course, is education. And, of course, as a professional educator seeking the very best for his child, that means we have to go private. That, of course, means money I can’t make as a teacher. Money I could probably land as an administrator, but that job looks terrible and empty and heartless; and I’d be directly contributing to the sub-par education of hundreds of kids as a public school administrator (because that’s what most parents/school board members/superintendents want from them- not because they’re bad people).
Thus, the career change. I’m a bit of a nerd, and computers have always been a fascination of mine, so why not? Career change at 35, let’s get into IT! I’ll start at WGU and earn a degree in Cloud and Systems Administration, then go out to make my way in the world. What could go wrong?