Completing undergraduate school as a history major and a soon to be teacher, I was stoked. Almost there. It was an exciting time! Student teaching was AWESOME! Looking forward to getting my own classroom understates the energy that I was building within me. It was my time. No more tests. No more projects. (Yea- I know ironic that I would say that since that is part of the teaching world.) My focus was to make history come alive and hopefully encourage kids to want to know more (Unlike the unexpiring examples I had as a student in high school - more on that another time.) As a teacher my drive was to make the classroom experience more exciting and desirable. There was a movie that inspied me - Teachers (1984). I wanted to be like Mr. Gower - throw the book away, use costumes, engage the students in the learning, make people question my sanity, and so much more.
The university had more and more meetings for the soon to be graduates - soon to be Teachers. These meetings were meant to get us thinking about graduating but not really about lining up our first school jobs. Looking back on those days, the meetings were more about completing without botching the end. Plenty time and effort was spent on understanding the submission of the proper paperwork than what should I do to apply for that first teaching position. So I turned to the experts, the teachers in the school where I performed my student teaching requirement. There were several there who had to know the answers. Right? Surely, that was where the real help was waiting to elighten me? I was disappointed.
Most of my circle of soon to be colleagues had only ever worked in that school and school system. Maybe one or two had shifted between schools but that was it. My life's journey was taking me to other places. I was possibly going to be in one of three states - Florida, North Carolina, or Georgia. Even though the University was in Florida I definitely knew I wan't staying in that area. My supervising teacher suggested we talk with the principal, afterall he was a principal who came from somewhere else - let's see if he knows anything about this process. Well he did have some suggestions but not much about other states and what advice I did get from him the most memorable was this gem - "I don't know much about these other states except that all school systems are not the same and often the biggest difference is that they don't pay the same." Ok. At least that was some advice, better than none. At this junction, there was a little franticness that was built in as I was graduating early - December not May. I was an officer in the US Army and I had to go away for Army training for 6 months. Some of my teaching friends were getting offers but I couldn't seek any from this community because I was now engaged to be married and we had definitely decided on moving to either North Carolina or Georgia. She was pursuing masters programs at universities in those states and I naively said, "I can get a teaching job wherever we end up...don't worry about it." Funny how words like that can come back to haunt you.
Looking back on those days, I wish that I had asked some specific questions of myself before worrying about getting information from others. Take a look at these three questions. Do you know your answers? Have you asked these of yourself? Take a minute to determine your responses. I will tell you my answers and reasons in my next post.
1. Where do I want to teach?
2. Is content more important to me than grade levels?
3. What extra skills do I have that would make me marketable to a principal and a school?
Till next time.