Friday, October 24, 2008

a story... how to become a teacher

You are in High School and allow a guidance counselor to choose your major and college. Who licensed her or was it a him? You may never understand that conversation.

Three semesters later you are grateful that your parents will even consider giving you a second chance. You remember the night it all turned around, but first that day you will have to drive 600 miles with your dad to clear out your dorm room.

You study something your interested in. You are honored as the Biology student of the year. You fall in love with life, the kind with photosynthesis.

Your senior year friends and professors will want to know where you have applied to graduate school. Some think your going to save the planet. You are on fire, who knows you may save a wetland.

You say to them, "No, I would rather go on my bicycle to the Catskill Mountains."

You meet your life goal.

At home, waiting for you, are thirty large envelopes: 10 from each degree you imagine yourself getting... Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Law, Public Policy.

You tutor at a community college. You see the woman of your dreams. You check the want ads. "Teachers needed... We Place Teachers"

Your teaching at the Valley Forge Military Academy. Now you know your whole life is unpredictable. You are going to barbers weekly

You fall in love, but she is leaving soon for Massachusetts.

You will choose love over the military academy.

You apply to every private school you can find in MA. You become a special education teacher.

You go back for a second year to prove you can do what you failed at the first year. It couldn't be that awful again. It could be, but of course your love is still close by.

Teach a third year then follow your love to Oregon. Say, "Hey where are all the private schools that need my uncertificated uncredentialed self."

Work as a teacher assistant for a year with the neediest of students. It will help you when you have assistants. Washing a student in a shower just may teach you humility.

Go to the U of O. Say, What do you mean you eliminated most of the education dept.

You get a degree in special education instead. Teach for a year in a dieing timber town. It will teach you more about life.

Teach for two years surrounded by prairies, I mean corn and soybeans. You will crave the hills of your childhood

Move back to your home state. And if you are blessed your wife will get a job at a Jesuit University, and you will lose a job when your school sells your satellite campus to a developer.

For one night she will come home sad and you will go back to that Sunday paper and apply for the two positions you skipped over, and your job search will finally end at a place that will unexpectedly turn into a very good gig.

Your love of plants that laid dormant for many years will return.

and all that time you give to the Nature Conservancy, because you still want to save wetlands.


so Kathryn.... what do we have in common?


  1. I wanted to be a farmer when I was young. My brother wanted to be a fire engine. In high school my aspirations were to one day teach school. My dad wanted me to go into mechancial engineering. My brother wanted to be a fire engine (not really). Dad died. I joined the Navy. Ten years later with a head full of Morse code and two Slavic languages, I became a railroad clerk for three decades before finding fulfillment as a teacher's asst in Special Education. I still maintain that life is what happens to you in the process of trying to get to where you think you are going....

  2. That is a more interesting journey to teaching than mine, maybe I'll blog about that today. I'm amazed at the variety of teaching experiences that you've had - are you still involved with special ed?

    I only know you through your blog which I read because you write about spirituality, teaching, gardening, and music - those aren't in any particular order because I haven't had enough coffee to think that critically. I suppose that would also be a list of some of things that we have in common.

    The first posts that hooked me into reading were about spirituality. Remember, I "met" you through Gannet Girl's blog; I met her through the internet too but that was before blogging was even a word. I am a neophyte to Ignation spirituality but am surrounded by people who have done the 19th Annotation. I meet with a group of them occasionally for centering prayer - it was a more regular thing before grad school.

    That's enough for now. I did it again. I haven't checked my e-mail yet and I've been off reading and writing in the blogosphere.

  3. Add on for Jim. 30 years ago I wanted to teach and my parents, both teachers, encouraged me to go into chemical engineering. I'm just now headed back to where I wanted to start. Life is interesting.

  4. Kathryn--I have been in special ed since I followed mosaic woman to MA. all bad days are blamed on her ;')

    there have been plenty since 9/87

    our rules for ourselves do get broken from time to time.

    Jim-- for now I hope to get to a quilt show this afternoon and not cut myself on any glass... we will see where life takes me. We keep a box of bandages outside our studios.

    K&J-- I wanted to be a minister at the age some want to be firetrucks, guided to become an engineer... then the above tells what happened.

  5. whenever i listen to someone tell their life journey, i am unfailingly astounded at the convolutions. at some point, i was taught that life goes in a straight line and so when my life began its inevitable twisted journey, i was quite certain i was doing it wrong. it's taken me a very long time and a very patient husband to see it otherwise.

    we are the sum total of our experiences and coincidences and that's why it's so important to remain open to new adventures.

    here's my "deep thoughts" as the phillies enter the 8th inning, ahead 4-3 at 12:35 AM: too much rain, too much pain as a consequence. right now, i regret being an athlete as a young woman.

    (ps: i wanted to be a veterinarian . . . then i took inorganic chemistry -- or, more accurately, it took me. i regret that to this day.)

  6. CS--- I know. I sometimes wonder how I ended up settled down (well it appears we have settled) in Lansdale. Lansdale? Not quite like the college towns we hung out in for 8 years, but far from dismal.

    So if my math is correct, that last 1.5 innings lasted 1.267 hours. The coffee better be good at church.

    and though not mighty, after all those failures, they finally got their teammate home from third. At 6am after 4 hours of sleep, awoken by M, I was explaining baseball and wins and strategy, then fell back to sleep.

    eeeeegaaaads--- now folk know I am a sports fan too. what personal info will I release next.

  7. clearly I meant 2.0 innings, unless you were counting innings by outs then I guess I may have been right, but I don't remember if there were any outs for them before they scored, but I don't think so????

  8. alphawoam-- Thanks, I am glad to welcome someone new. it is late, but I will come over to your blog in the future.


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