2/23/13

Trying Not to feel Unaccomplished

It is a funny thing being in touch with people who I haven't seen in a very long while.  It is very seldom, (ie: has never happened) that I meet up with an old classmate or coworker and discover, yes, she also has been home with her kids for the last ten years and is perhaps just returning to her proffession.  Ten years is a lot of career building, a pile of work experience, a bazillion accomplished goals and places traveled, or in my case 3 kids ages 4,8,& eek! a boy who will be 10 in seventeen days! The most jarring to me though, is when I meet up with old coworkers or other teachers who have been teaching all this time while I have been home. It makes me feel like I dodged the draft by leaving my proffession right when all the hoop jumping began for MCAS, No Child Left Behind, and now Race to the Top.  I start to feel a little like I have no right to have an opinion, or to voice it, with regards to the state of education at present, and I feel a little unaccomplished having SAHM on my resume for the past 10 years.  I worry that my determination to return to teaching, to do better for the kids, will be viewed as idealistic know-it-allism from a wannabe teacher who has stayed home for more years now than she has teaching time under her belt.

For better or worse, I managed to transition from a newbie teacher to a stay at home parent with my idealism about education in tact.  That idealism was challenged while trap tripping over to the other side of the bridge.  It took me a couple years to hurd my little ones over the bridge, past the troll, and on to the green, green grass of schools that taste better, and nourish more readily than the barren rocky landscape that we left.  The experience has been a different kind of education about teaching and learning, different than slogging through the fog of high stakes testing and accountability that teachers have had to do.  I like to think that being on the other side of the bridge gives me the kind of perspective that will be necessary to improving the state of public education in the years to come, toward balancing accountabity with sound and innovative teaching practices. I worry though, about being perceived as someone who thinks it is all in the power of the teachers to control, as someone who thinks most teachers are not doing the best they CAN within a system that is not working well.  

I am particularly sensitive to the fact that I had to fight hard to get one of my kids what he needs in public school and the glinting notion that I may somehow be seen as an enemy, upstart, or merely an idealistic fool by folks who have "dedicated their lives to the education of our children" while I stayed home dedicated to raising my own.  Do they see this huge chunk of my education, this badge of honor as a scarlet letter?  Then of course I flip it and ask, why do I care?  I guess I can get over the idea of others not readily "seeing" my experiences as education, but I care really, because I want to get a teaching job.  My solution is to create current references and experiences with the courses I am taking and the job I currently hold that will validate my teacherness somehow and pave the way to reigniting my teaching career in this current climate. 

Just occured to me. . .Is this post just nerves at the thought of beginning the interview process again this year?  or fear of the question "Will there be any jobs to interview for?" hmm. . .    Breath, Amy






2/22/13

Return to 'Student' Status

So here I am, a mom, a teacher, a student, and I realize that I have been practicing the harmony of these three areas of my life for some time now, but without the all the imposed schedules and formal deadlines.  So this year I have returned to work/ school as a class size paraproffessional (working with 3 third grade teachers to support the close to 70 kiddos of diverse educational and behavioral needs in their classes) and I have returned to student status so I can keep growing my skills and credentials as a teacher.

 So testing. . . "Get up and go to work on schedule while getting children to and from schools". . . Check.

I can do this.  Not only that, I am really enjoying getting to know the children and the teachers, and figuring out how I can best support them all, it is an intersting job.  It is a relief to me really how much I am enjoying getting to know the teachers and how to best support each of them and their unique needs.  And it is a great feeling because I realize I can do it and I like it. They are each so different, just like the kids, and the classes.

Next layer of challenge:  For a month or so, I have also been enrolled in two hybrid online courses.  (For those of you who need that decoded, it means we meet in person for 3 classess, while completing most of our coursework and weekly discussions and assignments on line.)  What can I say, just one sounded too doable *smirk*, I wanted to challenge myself.  It is an interesting combination so far and the classes are right up my ally.  Positive Behavior Supports, and Learning Disabilities and Instructional Techniques, are both taught by the same instructor and fairly compatible to take together.  My biggest challenge is keeping from getting the two tangled up in my mind.  But isn't that what we really want in the end?  So, while trying to keep the assignments organized by class, is a bit of a challenge, I think allowing the two courses to mix in my mind and experience is a good thing overall.  (And all this while the clean laundry pile stares me down as I read-that adds another element. . . you wouldn't believe how much energy it takes to be stared down by your own clean laundry!)

Another challenge, because I have focused particularly on the behavior piece on my own for a couple years now, it to really stretch myself and go beyond the understandings I have already reached to try to shape a managable classroom philosophy.  One that is strong enough to not be swayed by the peer pressure of other teachers who may not understand or agree, and flexible enough to meet the needs of a diverse population of learners.  As you know, if you have been reading here for any length of time, Dr. Ross Greene is my hero.  Now how do I shape what I have learned from him into a practical, doable, classroom philosophy for management that opens the door for learning and acceptance of differences in a classroom setting.

As you know, that is my end goal.  To be the classroom teacher who sets up the environment for success.  I have had the added benefit of working with a diverse set of teachers, and even more diverse set of kids, and learning from them each day what techniques work, what seems to work at first, and what strategies get in the way despite good intentions.  It is an interesting mix and a constant reminder to me of these three truths


  • "Nobody's perfect." 
  • "Everyone is different"
  • "Everyone can learn"