We all come to the classroom with a story. Some are similar to others while some are very distinctive. What's YOUR teacher story? How did you get to the classroom? Has it always been a lifelong dream or did you come after being in another profession?
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My mom was called in for a parent/teacher conference by my kindergarten teacher. From what I've heard of that meeting, it was to discuss the fact that I didn't quite understand that I was not the teacher. Apparently, I had many ideas on how to improve the classroom and had no problem with frequently making my suggestions known. So I guess, in a way I've always known I would be a teacher.
Throughout middle school and high school, I looked for every opportunity to work with children. I frequently babysat for several different families, I taught dance classes to 3-5 year olds, I became a summer camp counselor at the camp I attended as a child, and I ran an after school volunteer program through my high school that provided a weekly after school program for teens with disabilities.
When it came time for college, I was ready to get out on my own and chose the University of Central Florida (partly because I liked their Teaching Academy, Curriculum Development Center, and other resources for teachers on campus and partly because who wouldn't want to live in Florida for awhile). I think I may have been the only one of my friends who went into college with my major - Early Childhood Education - decided and graduated without ever changing it.
Freshman year of college, I started volunteering in a 4 year old class at the Creative School for Children, the pre-school on campus. I pretty much decided at that point that I wanted to teach pre-k. Through different opportunities through my classes and teachers, I was given the opportunity to experience many different preschool classrooms. From the art based 3 year old classroom, to working one on one with a student in the very early stages of English language acquisition, and I even spent many hours in a Varying Exceptionalities Pre-K classroom.
Then when it came time for student teaching, I was placed in second grade classroom. While hesitant at first, I absolutely loved teaching second grade. They were so independent! I loved teaching guided reading and writing workshop! My second student teaching placement, was a 1st and 2nd grade combination classroom at an inner city school. It was a completely different experience, but truly cemented my love for teaching 2nd grade.
After graduating, I moved back home to Chicago and quickly found out that finding a job wasn't going to be as easy as I anticipated. When the surrounding school districts all began school at the end of August as I was still unemployed, I interviewed to teach a Junior Kindergarten class at a private pre-school/day care. After a month, I was uprooted from the class where I had gotten to know the children and established a routine and placed into a 3 year old classroom when their teacher left. I loved all of the children and their families (and still frequently run into them as the school is just a few blocks from where I live) but my co-workers and administration made it a very unpleasant place to work. Children were constantly being moved between classroom and I was often pulled out of my classroom to sub in other classes or help the director with office work. I was miserable and dreading the job search again!
Luckily, at the beginning of July I was called for two interviews in very different Pre-K classrooms. I was hesitant to be teaching Pre-K again, after being so miserable to year before but I went into each interview with a positive attitude. In the end, I was offered both jobs. While the job I did not take is only a 5 minute drive from my house, I would have been teaching 3 half-day programs effectively teaching 60 children and that just seemed overwhelming to me!
Instead, I accepted the teaching position at a school in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood about 40 minutes away. Last year was the first in many many years the school had a preschool program and I was really excited to be a part of designing the curriculum. I was given a lot of freedom (and Oh My! was it fun spending the school's money to furnish and stock the classroom). About half of my class came in at the beginning of the year speaking absolutely no English, and about half of the others knew only very little. It was very rewarding to see the whole class, learn, play, and speak to each other in English at the end of the year! Overall, I felt very successful and I look forward to making the pre-k program even better for the children returning to my class and the new families who will join our school community.