Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Road Not Taken - Teaching

As a little girl, summer vacations were spent teaching a room full of stuffed animals addition and spelling. I carefully crafted lesson plans and lined up all of my pupils to offer my guidance on the best way to find the answer to 2+2. Even at a very young age, I knew that teaching was a good fit for me. And after field experience last semester, I knew that I was on the right track. I love kids!

I have been diligently plugging away at getting a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. As I am about to finish my Associate's degree at Phoenix College this coming Spring, I met with an adviser from the Teacher's College at Arizona State University. My worst fear was realized. After a long discussion, I came to the realization that I had not crossed all of my t's or dotted all of my i's. Getting this degree is not the perfect fit for me. Senior year requires a full time Student Teaching placement. The student is paired with a mentor teacher and basically lives out their teaching contract for the year from front to back.  There is no pay. As much as I would LOVE to be able to have that type of experience in a classroom, I cannot possibly take a full school year off of work with no pay. I left feeling so discouraged.

This is the part where my knight in shining armor swoops in and saves the day (always my favorite part). Joshua did a little research and found that I could take a different route that makes more sense for a mature (also known as "older") student like me. Now, I have options. I am going to go ahead and get my Associate's degree in Elementary Education from PC, but when I transfer to ASU, I will choose a Bachelor's degree that I can get online. Two that stand out are English or Family and Human Development. Online classes really make more sense with my busy schedule anyway. After I get this degree, I can enroll in a Master's and Certification program to achieve my teaching license. ASU partners with organizations like Teach for America or Arizona Teaching Fellows to offer an opportunity to transition to teaching from another career while getting paid for the work. If accepted, I would work in a high-need classroom for two years and take evening classes once as week.

In the end, it will take me a little longer to get where I am going, but I feel excited about this new path. When I was younger, I wanted to get my Bachelor's degree (in teaching) to join the Peace Corps. Now that I am mature (there is that word again) and have a family, a mortgage, and responsibilities, Teach for America (or a program like it) is the next best thing. The transition will be smooth and I will not have to give up a lot of cherished time in my home with my family or leave my current job (which I love too) any sooner than needed. My grandmother once made the comment that I do everything out of order or in a different way from everyone else. It is true, I have taken the path that is less traveled and it surely has made all of the difference.

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