The Journey to Teaching

Since it is summer time I haven't spent much time talking about what takes up about 3/4th of my life: teaching. To be fair this is my first summer off since I was 14 so I have been trying to enjoy it without planning for next year. Though my addictions to pinterest and to reading teacher blogs has made that difficult as of late.

My road to teaching wasn't traditional and it certainly wasn't without its bumps or mountains, but if ever there was a time for the motto "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," it was the last year of my life.

I graduated from the University of Texas in 2007 with a degree in Public Relations. Insert lots of celebratory cheering. Then I had to figure out what I was going to do in the real world. Insert screeching halt to celebration. I was perfectly content working at the sports bar and playing around in Austin. But I am not wealthy and that degree wasn't going to pay for itself.

Fast forward one year later and about 1,000,000 resume submissions later and I landed my first job outside of the service industry at a law firm. It was scary, challenging and allowed for tons of creativity all at the same time. I was able to develop an amazing skill set and learn to take praise and criticism with some sort of grace. And then as with every office setting our office administrator left and my take charge attitude left me with all of his responsibilities. I will never complain about the amazing opportunity I was handed: I had someone who believed in me, I had incredible experiences to add to my resume and I was making a really nice salary. I went from being the owners assistant and in charge of newsletters and marketing materials to running a staff of ten assistants, handling AR and AP, dealing with vendors, HR issues, and any and all tech issues. My new title should of been Jack of All Trades.

The enormous amount of responsibilities also had its drawbacks: vacations were difficult to manage, I basically worked 24/7 and I took a lot of heat from the owner for any issues.

I recall a point two years after being hired that I was driving home from my brothers 4th birthday party completely burnt out. My unhappiness at not being able to stick around Houston to spend time with family, my annoyance at my lack of ability to maintain any of my friendships or relationships properly all for a job I wasn't even fulfilled by made me a depressed mess. I know for a fact that I wasn't exactly the funnest version of myself at that time.

That same weekend a girl I went to high school with had posted on facebook something about her life: she was teaching, getting her masters to be a counselor, getting married and having a baby. And frankly I was jealous, none of those things seemed feasible with my current job. I certainly had never considered teaching but I always knew I wanted to get my masters and counseling at the high school level was something I was very interested in.

Never one to dwell too long, I got my butt into gear and by the following weekend I had registered for an alternative certification program. And three weeks later I started my first class.

Honestly that first Saturday getting up at 7:30 when I had already worked a 50 hour work week left me second guessing my decision. But I went and boy was I excited, after the first class I wanted more. I felt for the first time that I belonged in that classroom and in the field of education. I spent much of the day taking extra notes and jotting down ideas, a sure sign I was invested.

While trying to maintain my current job I somehow finished my 27 classes, 40 hours of internship and passed two state tests in less than 7 months (I might be an overachiever.) I started to apply to every job within a hour of Austin. With massive budget cuts going on I knew it would be tricky to get a job, but failure is something I have never dealt with well. That summer I went on only one interview (it wasn't a good interview either) but it did not stop my dedication, my life pretty much looked like: work, gym, apply for jobs, see Mr. B or Erica, sleep. Repeat.

In August my life changed even more, I moved out of mine and Erica's apartment into storage and Mr. B's tiny apartment, and Erica moved to Florida. My stress levels at the law firm were out of control, I completely understood their nervousness at me possible leaving but I didn't really need to be told daily I was making a poor decision.

On the last Monday in August school started and I still had no job, that Tuesday I applied for my 175th teaching position. Yes, I am so OCD that I counted every application. And then I told Mr. B, that I would need to revise my plan, possible sub for a year, because I didn't want to start my first year of teaching in the middle of the school year. Because things always go how we want them to.

That Thursday I received a phone call from my 175th application and set up an interview for the next day. The interview went well I thought (I have had less than 7 interviews in my life so I have little to actually go on) and I went straight into work trying not to spend too much time pondering and by 4 that day I was offered the position.

The position was exactly what I wanted: a middle school in South Austin and a technology teacher. I believe I jumped up and down after that final phone call. Oh yea, I did!

Monday and Tuesday of the next week I wrapped up as much as I could at the law firm and on Wednesday I went in for training at the school and started teaching the next Tuesday following Labor Day Weekend.

Up to this point in the story I am sure you are thinking, well lucky you, thousands of teachers were out of work and you got your dream job with no experience. I am nothing but honest, and I will flat out say that that first semester was closer to a nightmare than a dream. I cried a lot those first few weeks, at night away from the kids and I questioned my decision to make these life changes. On top of all of this we were going through a lot of issues finding a place to live and ending my job at the law firm, a story for another post.

I had fist fights in my room, was called the B word in two different languages and pretty much felt like I had a classroom running me. There is a silver lining to this story, I only teach a semester class so I was able to start fresh in January in a room that I could slightly organize and that wouldn't of had a sub the first two weeks of school. I am nothing if not determined, did I mention the 175 applications, so I worked with administrators and professional development to create a classroom management plan that would work for our specific demographics. And the spring semester went by so much more smoother and I seemed to find some sort of rhythm. I even enjoyed teaching, shocking! That's not to say there weren't mishaps: a stolen cell phone, shaving cream fights, etc, but I didn't doubt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in life.

As summer dwindles away I look forward to my 2nd year of teaching, with a new energy and focus because I know that this year won't be about surviving but about thriving.

This post was extremely long and if anyone is actually still reading I apologize, to me it is important to document where my journey started and as you can tell blogging was close to the last thing I was thinking about last year.

The Babbling Box!

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