Saturday, April 13, 2013

reflective introspection

I never planned on becoming a teacher.  I was never one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  I changed my mind about once a week.  Once I was in high school, I finally settled on either a medical examiner or a neurosurgeon.  I loved (and still love) science.  However, once I discovered that I'd have to pay my own way through school that all changed.  I remembered my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Natoli, and how he was the first person to really encourage me to go to college; and I became a history teacher.

When I walked away from teaching a few years back, I never expected to re-enter the world of education.  All I could see were the political backstabbing, the far to heavy emphasis on standardized testing, and the impossibility of meeting the needs of every student. 

I started teaching shortly before the implementation of the oh-so-ironically-titled "No Child Left Behind."  During my first couple of years of teaching I was able to implement project based learning lessons.  The wonderful teacher next door and I took our kids outside for couple of classes during an experiential exercise on the feudal system.  It was great, kids learned and remembered things, and liked coming to class.  Once NCLB came into play, however, it became more and more about testing; and less and less time was available for teaching the way I wanted to teach.

I had the opportunity to switch over to Special Education at the same school.  As a Resource Specialist I was more able to work with teachers and kiddos to get their needs met.  It was great again, for a while.

Then... a whole bunch of stuff that I'd rather not talk about right now turned everything upside down and I left teaching.  It was never the kids, and it was never the parents.  It was political mumbo jumbo.  And people can union bash and hate the CTA as much as they want, but my union peeps protected me and my interests, just like a union is supposed to do.

ANYWAY.... so I went back to school, thinking I'd eventually end up teaching at the college level.  Professor H (first Huey, now Hoff) sounded pretty swell.  Alas, a whole year of applying to various and sundry graduate school achieved nothing more than decimating my academic self esteem.  A year later, as I'm applying again, to a much more selective field of schools, and with a much more specific statement of intent, my wonderful friend Lisa tells me about Tseng College.

Run out of Cal State Northridge, they have one of the top ranked Communication Disorders programs around.  And it's all online, so wherever we decide to live, I can still finish school.  We were loathe to be tied down to Riverside for time eternal, because honestly, it's not the place for us long term.  Since my undergraduate degree is in history, I applied to their prereq program.  If "academically successful" in that program I'm guaranteed entrance to their masters program.  And I have no doubt I will be "academically successful."  I still never imagined using a Speech Path. degree in the public school setting.  I saw myself helping people with traumatic brain injuries or stroke victims relearn the ability to speak; or, if I was working with kids it would be in a medical office setting. (I'm still waiting ...impatiently... for an acceptance email or letter... any day now...)

Then, the amazing Lisa further hooks me up with an interview with the learning center she works with part time as a special education services provider.  I went to my interview on Thursday, the first job interview I've gone on in 13 years.  Talking with my interviewer about why I became involved in education, what I feel the role of a teacher or support provider should be, how I make accommodations for kids made me realize that I am really good at working with kids.  I've never really left that world, I still help friends and family with their IEP's, give suggestions to people to help out with issues, etc.  I guess I had just forgotten what being in that professional world felt like.  It gave me some much needed validation that I am good at what I do, and this place seems like the perfect place in which my skills can best be utilized.  It's a k-12 independent study charter school that serves LA, Orange, San Brdo, and Ventura counties.  The kids meet with their regular education teacher about once a month to get work, and then are basically homeschooled, and then meet again to turn in that stuff and get new stuff.  As a special ed. support provider I'd meet with my kids once a week or bi-weekly to work on their goals and give support to the regular ed assignments.  It's incredibly flexible, and everyone works together to find what works best for each and every kid.  That way there really are no kids left behind.

I'm pretty sure I'll start seeing kids in the fall, which will be wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. It is funny how new paths seem to fall into place in one's life when you least expect it. This new job prospect sounds exciting and well suited for you. Good luck with everything!