I did not understand what I was getting myself into when I decided my freshmen year of college that I was going to double major in Elementary Education and Early Childhood. I thought this was the reasonable choice as one day I did want to start my own pre school, so I could be at home with my kids and still bring in an income, but knew that I could not do that right out of college. So I thought, "Well it will be nice to have the wide range of options for starting my career right after I get my degree." So I decided to do both. Hah, how brilliant of me!
My Pre schoolers from a couple years back...aren't they adorable?!
Although most people scoff and mock when I tell them I have to read 60 picture books in a week, or make a table top theater, or create a sock puppet and develop it's character, or write an entire art unit to span a 2 month period, or design my own music book complete with lyrics, hand drawn pictures and at least 10 pages for homework....they in all reality have no idea.
All those examples came from my "Arts Semester" last semester. This semester is my first practicum. Also known as our literacy practicum. Most of our subject matter revolves around teaching children how to read. This is a difficult task. I sometimes have nightmares about teaching children and all of them leaving not knowing how to read and coming back to tell me how I screwed up their lives...talk about stressful. I do not think people really step back and evaluate who has had such a large impact on where they have gotten in their lives today.
You would not believe how often I am told, "Elementary Education...way too take the easy way out." If they only knew... How difficult a task it is too keep a running record while children read. If they only knew how difficult it is to write lesson plans; with 4 different models to appease all of your different teachers. If they only knew how difficult it is to decide when to use guided reading/writing, interactive reading/writing, shared reading/writing, independent reading/writing in the classroom and when to choose a different one. How difficult it is to teach math. Base ten, algorithms, fractions, numbers, conservation of numbers etc. Being able to explain why and how to teach it in multiple ways as to make sure those that are not the 'typical' learners are also able to grasp the concept. Teachers bring them their first experience learning about the community, the state, the US and the world. You have to teach inquiry learning and get them excited to learn science. All those things are so important and we have not even touched on the example teachers are leaving for their students! Teachers are spending more time with them per day, while awake, than their parents are. What caliber of person are you? Teaching them to love and become a lifelong learner and helping to determine and define their future.
Taking the easy way out? Not the first thought that comes to my mind.
Just maybe it is one of the hardest professions? Maybe...
We are told in every single one of our classes that we have chosen the most challenging profession. I feel like often times our teachers practice speeches they are going to give us, to try and scare us out of our major. So why are we doing it? Why have we signed up to work 19 hour days, where work comes home with us and follows us around on the weekends? Why have we agreed to be so much more than just a teacher of academics in all of these children's lives? Why have we decided that taking 18 credits a semester and having zero social life, because homework consumes your every waking moment, is a good idea?
I can tell you one thing, it is definitely not for the big bucks! Starting Utah teachers are making a whopping 27 grand a year, and that is if you are lucky! (Wyoming is where it's at, 1st year teacher: $42,000. Sign me up!) It is definitely not because we automatically get summers off. No, that is not it, because that is mostly not true. Nor is it because we get 2 recesses during the day...although I am real stoked to have recess again! ;)
No, it is because I want to make a difference. I want to be the kind of teacher that as my students get older write papers on because I was someone they thought highly of. I want to change lives. I want to have the love and adoration of 28 some odd children each year, and have them come back and visit me and tell me news that is going on in their lives. I want to gain new best friends every single year. I want to be a person that children trust and can come to if something in their life is not right. I want to be the one who makes them want to be a better person and them me. I want to be changed, every day by something that my adorable children teach me.
And that, that is why I am going to be a teacher. That is why the stress and heartache of my schooling will be worth it. Now, it is my job every day to remember.
President Monson said,
"The teacher not only shapes the expectations and ambitions of her pupils, but she also influences their attitudes toward their future and themselves. If she is unskilled, she leaves scars on the lives of youth, cuts deeply into their self-esteem, and distorts their image of themselves as human beings. But if she loves her students and has high expectations of them, their self-confidence will grow, their capabilities will develop, and their future will be assured. The influence of teachers in fashioning personality and in shaping careers can hardly be overestimated. It makes no difference whether or not she or he is teaching literature or mathematics or science or any other subject of the curriculum. The teacher must win from students the faith that moves mountains. When the teacher succeeds, near-miracles happen. Suddenly a pupil is awakened to an enthusiastic interest in some aspect of learning and begins to read widely without being urged. Another discovers in himself powers that he did not know he had. Another decides to seek better companions. In a flash of inspiration, still another makes a decision that leads to a lifetime career. The impelling force, the dynamo, in that room is very often a quiet, gracious personality with love in her heart for her young charges, a love never directly referred to, but there always."
What an INCREDIBLE opportunity and responsibility!
Am I up and qualified for it?
Man, I sure hope so!