Back to School Shopping

The air is cool and heralds the end of summer. Trees are still green, but it’s the deep, dark color of overly mature leaves. Soon they will be sucked dry of life and thrill leaf-peeping visitors in lethargic motor homes as they back up traffic for miles on the winding New England roads.

I’m waiting for my first meeting that could possibly bring me back to a decision I made a long, long time ago. To teach. I had made up my mind that I wanted to teach back when I was in high school. Other than the fact that my mother was a teacher, I’m not sure why I thought it would be the right place for me to make my career. I had never been a stellar student and to be honest, always viewed school more like prisons with desks rather than a place of learning. I would rather have been doing my own thing than listening to someone else’s.

The funny thing is, my own thing often consisted of researching topics I was interested in, building projects that I thought were fun or drawing and painting. The idea of sitting on the other side of the big desk in the classroom and teaching the INTERESTING stuff appealed to me. When it was time to go off and get my bachelor’s degree, I had picked Art Education as my direction.

I had always been artistic and it was easily one of my favorite classes. The other possibility that tempted me had been history, however since my mother was a history teacher, going into that particular field felt… too obvious, some how. Also, I had watched the piles of homework she brought home and had to grind through on Sunday nights. Art’s workload looked better to me.

Four years later and degree in hand, I got to see the cold hard fact that my advisors had been warning me about for the last four years. The job market was hideous. Unless, that is, you were an art teacher. Then it was HORRIBLY hideous! Although I was able to teach grades Kindergarten through high school seniors, the jobs just didn’t exist in any real numbers. If you think about it, most schools have one, maybe two art teachers. They were hired twenty years ago and now that they had the job down cold and tenure, there was no way that they were leaving any time soon. Schools too, were rather caustic when it came to art programs. Though it is very difficult to actually let an art teacher go once they have established them selves, there was nothing to stop them from closing the position once they retired or moved on. Bottom line, art as a subject wasn’t being expanded then and isn’t now. It wasn’t looking good.

So, I did what all hopeful and unemployed teachers do. I subbed. When I say, “subbed”, what I mean is that I awoke to the phone at six in the morning with a call from the school secretary, telling me that there was a school that needed a punching bag in a half an hour. I would fish out a shirt and tie and bring them with me to hang up in the bathroom in the hope that the the steam from my shower would smooth out some of the wrinkles. In the blur of the early morning, I would arrive at an unfamiliar school, look for an unfamiliar class room and then try as hard as I could to both decipher the missing teacher’s lesson plan for the day and not get taken advantage of by the students. What ever happened, you can’t show fear. Forth graders can smell fear and if they do, well… I’d just prey for a swift and painless death.

To be honest, it wasn’t that bad. Close!… but not that bad. What I did learn was that I loved the little kids! I had always envisioned myself teaching art in a high school somewhere and had done my student teaching at that level. What I discovered was that I should have been a kindergarten teacher. To pass on dealing with sullen teenagers who know it all and are utterly unimpressed, if not out right dismissive of what you are trying to teach them, for the wide eyed enthusiasm of a five year old learning a new song was something I found out after I had assumed I was done with college. Unfortunately, I didn’t peruse the change to being a Kindergarten teacher. It would have meant going back to school again to get another degree and I was still twitching from my last round of finals a few years before. After years of mornings like this, I was getting crispy from the subbing and loosing interest and any hope of being an art teacher. Rather than going back for the second teaching degree, I looked away from education and moved into the world of business. It’s been ten years of that now… and I’m getting crispy again.

A few weeks ago, Action Girl and I took the kids to the local school playground for some fun. The new school year was due to start in just one week and as Short Stack played on the garishly colored plastic jungle gyms; I peeked through a window of the building. Hands cupped on the sides of my head and nose against the glass, I looked in on a first grade classroom ready for action. Desks neatly lined up, black board cleaned, bulletin boards decorated and everything needed for learning, neatly tucked into cubbies an baskets just waiting for little hands to fish them out. In the middle of my chest, I felt the pull again. I wanted to be behind the big desk. I wanted that to be my room!

So, I’ve made a decision. I’ve put my business up for sale and will be stepping away form that. It’s time for a change. As I wait for my appointment with the director of the education department, I’m watching the other young students walk down tiny paths on their way to another class. I remember being them and hope they are enjoying what they study. Life can be a long and strange road and you never know where it will take you. It might be away to unforeseen places. It may be leading you where you never expected to go and wouldn’t pick now if you did. Or, like the path might be for me, circular. Having shown me some amazing vistas and overlooks along the way, it could lead back to the place I started at so long ago. I’ll have to wait and see.

The thing is, to enjoy the walk.

Advertisements

6 Responses

  1. Wow! That’s a radical change! Shouldn’t you wait until after your appointment with the director of the Education department to put your business up for sale? I mean, are you sure there are openings in schools close by?

    From what I know from you from reading your posts, you should be a great teacher. VERY very good luck to you!

    Also, I hope you’ll be blogging about the classroom – that should be rather interesting!

    Not so radical, actually. I’ve kept a hand in teaching one way or another. I really do enjoy the work and hope I can get back into it. It won’t be easy, for sure. As things stand now, my certification is no longer valid and I know that I’ll have college level classes that will need to be taken. The state does not make it easy to qualify to teach, by any stretch of the imagination.

    As for selling my shop, I’m ready for that. It was a hard choice to make but now that I’ve made it, I’m not going to second guess my self. The real test will be if I can find employ in the school systems here. Even if I don’t I have confidence that I can find work. I’m ready for that change.

    If I can get hired to teach munchkin sized kids, you better believe that some of it will end up here!
    -TP

  2. You can’t see it over the Internet of course, but I’m giving you a standing ovation for making a commitment to doing something important and having the stones to just dive in!

    clap clap clap!

    *bows*
    Thanks! We’ll see if it’s even possible. There’s a long way to go before I can even have a shot at having my own classroom.
    -TP

  3. Oh, this is really exciting 😀 Congratulations!

    Don’t congratulate yet! All I’ve done so far is decide to get out of what I’ve been doing for work for the last ten years. As it turned out, this university’s program didn’t fit what I was looking for. There are a lot of options yet to look into. We shall see where this goes. I’ve just decided that one way or another, I want to be working with kids again. Little kids, if possible since we tend to think the same way. 😉
    -TP

  4. Good luck with your plan. (I am doing a Mexican wave with jimsmuse right now)

    Thanks! We shall see where this goes.
    -TP

  5. Congratulations! Wow, what a leap of faith! Awesome, can’t wait to hear more.

    “Faith”? Hmmm. I don’t know about that. I generally think of having faith involving less fear. I’m terrified!… But my head’s down and I’m running.
    -TP

  6. You go man! Going back to teach history at my old high school has always been a dream of mine as well. I sincerely hope that you accomplish what you’re looking for. I admire the courage tremendously.

    Thanks! We shall see. It’s going to be a heck of a lot of work, but I’m resolved to try.
    -TP

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: