If you have visited my website, you have may have read the home page where I introduce myself. (If not, check it out here!) I kept it short and sweet because I didn't want to write a book. ...And let's be honest, I'm not a fan of writing much! Haha! Blogging is different though. I am constantly thinking of what I can blog about. If photography was my only job, I'd probably blog Monday through Friday like some photographers I know do. However, photography is only a part of my crazy, busy, wouldn'ttradeitfortheworld life!
My "first job" is teaching.
With the end of the school year so near, I thought this would be a great place to start this series.
During my senior year of high school, I sat down with my parents to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I mean, that's how it is done right? Your life gets figured out in a single conversation over dinner? Ha. Luckily I pretty much had it narrowed down to three careers: architect/interior designer, nurse/caregiver (probably in a nursing home), or teacher. I quickly crossed off architect/interior designer because I was terrified that my job would take me to a big city like New York and as much as I would LOVE to vacation in the Big Apple ... I can't picture myself living there. NEXT! I umm'd and ahh'd over my next decision: nurse/caregiver or teacher. I love taking care of people when they are sick. I'm not a fan of shots, but being there for someone when they are feeling down ... that is something I get a lot of joy out of. The reason I decided against this career choice was the fact that I wouldn't be able to leave work at work. If someone was really sick, I'd loose sleep. Basically... I'd never sleep. So... teaching it is! Like most teenage girls, I got into babysitting and children were drawn to me! It was kind of weird! I never figured out WHY these munchkins were so excited to see me, why they were so upset when I left, or why their parents told me that their kids raved about me! I must have some sort of special skill? Yup, this is the reason I thought I'd be a great teacher!
So during my college search, I decided to apply early to Longwood University (in the Fall of 2004). That was the only school I applied early for because I knew that it was known for being a great school if you wanted a degree in Education. I had a couple back-ups that I would apply to in the Spring if I didn't get in but luckily, I didn't need to ... I got in! I loved Longwood for many reasons... small town, gorgeous campus, "small" (less than 5,000) student body, small teacher-student ratio. Just a "homey" small-town school. It was the PERFECT school for teaching. The best part was that they really got you ready for life in the classroom. I had to do 2 3-week practicums, a semester-long partnership, and student teaching in two different grade levels! That's a lot of in-classroom experience! Basically, my ENTIRE senior year was in the classroom! It was fantastic!
After all this in-classroom experience, I had been in a Kindergarten classroom, 2 1st grade classrooms, a 2nd grade classroom, AND a 5th grade classroom. Of course everyone was asking me "What is your favorite? Which do you want to teach?" My response was automatic. I loved 5th grade. My cooperating teacher, Mrs. Bunting was AMAZING! She gave me so much confidence in my teaching. She asked what I was planning to do and how I would execute it and why I would do it that way. She shared her experiences with me. She would watch me uninterrupted and give me feedback that was incredibly helpful and made me reflect and grow so much. I'm not sure I thanked her enough for everything that she did for me. So Jennifer, if you are reading this, please know that 6 years later I am still in awe of how much you taught me! THANK YOU! <3
Well, I had graduated college. WOOHOO!!! Let the dreaded job search begin. Everyone thinks that getting a job teaching is a piece of cake. Well let me tell you, the good school districts are REALLY hard to get into! I mean, you apply and follow up and hear nothing. Many people who get newly hired in those school districts have subbed in the district for a while or have an "in" somewhere. I student taught in a good school district and even told the principal at the school I was in that I would apply and handed in a resume IN PERSON. Nothing. I guess it didn't help that the beginning of the awful job market was RIGHT when I graduated. So everyone was making cuts and moving people around to keep jobs ... not really looking hiring new people. Womp womp :( I had several interviews. I must admit I took anything I could get. I even interviewed for a 6th grade English position. You remember how I already told you that I'm NOT a writing type of person ... right? I'm SOOO glad I didn't get offered that job because I was in the mindset of accepting the first thing that came my way! Well, I ended up doing exactly that! I interviewed for a PK position and nailed it! This school was literally doubling the staff since they were moving from a half-day program to a full-day program in a bigger building. I was one of 9 brand-new, fresh-out-of-college teachers. YESSSS! I was so happy. Even though it was the complete opposite of where I thought I wanted to be. My heart was in 5th grade after college. But it was a job. A REAL JOB!!!
Here I am, almost done with my 5th year of teaching. Same school. Same room. So, is it "easy" to be a PK teacher? It must be right? All they do is "play"!!! Haha. If you want to annoy a teacher (ESPECIALLY a lower grade-level teacher), tell them exactly that! It's not easy to control 18 three- and four-year-olds who have never been in a structured school setting. Oh, did I mention they go to school for a full 6 1/2 hours with NO NAP and NO RESOURCE! We do 4 whole group lessons a day, including Writer's Workshop. We are the music teacher, the art teacher, the PE teacher, the computer teacher. It's a very rewarding program for young children to be in. We give them SUCH a strong foundation for elementary school. I have kids right now that are reading on a first-grade reading level!
This grade level is THE MOST REWARDING! These babes come in and are writing waves and random marks on their paper and they leave writing their name, sounding out their words, and writing beautiful stories. It's amazing to pull out their baseline writing that they made on the first day and compare it to what they are doing now. THIS is what makes it all worth it <3
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post!!! I tried to look back to see if I can split it up into two or three posts but it is a journey of my teaching career. It just didn't seem right to split it up! I'm hoping to have some blog posts in the future of things that you can do at home with your three-to-five year old munchkins before they jump into Kindergarten. If you have any suggestions or any specifics that you want to hear ... email me!