Saturday, June 08, 2013

To Teach or Not To Teach? That IS the Question!!!

When I was little, I used to line up my stuffed animals and play school. I always loved acting like I was a teacher and it was always something that I wanted to do with my life. I had two three things I always wanted to be. 1) A mother  2) A teacher  3) A National Park Ranger (I blame my parents for that one-- vacations each summer and seeing our National Parks... it was awesome).

I did what my heart told me to do, and I went to school to become a teacher. I studied hard and graduated with high honors from both my undergraduate studies and both of my Master's programs. I enjoyed teaching elementary school and my students filled my life with so much joy.

I devoted an insane amount of time (and money) into my job vocation. I spent every Tuesday night staying late (like getting home after 8pm) so I could plan out my next week and get everything organized for the upcoming week. I emailed parents, I had a weekly newsletter that I worked really hard to make as informative and enjoyable for the parents, and I made sure to keep my classroom current and engaging.

When we moved from MI to NC it was a bit of a shock to go from traditional calendar to year-round. I finished teaching 5th graders on June 9th, 2007 and started teaching year round on July 7th, 20007. So much for a long summer vacation!

Teaching in the year-round school system had a lot of positives, but as a teacher, I had to move classrooms every six months. I mean tear everything down completely, pack every single thing up, and move my stuff to another room. This was the worst thing about teaching in a year-round school.

As a result, I never felt "at home" and never had the feeling of being comfortable. I had many teaching things that I left at home because it was too much trouble to move them every six months.

So when Gus came into our lives, I took a dramatic leave from teaching. I had not decided if I would be staying home with him or not, and I thought I had time to decide. I was tracked out (on vacation) when Gus happened, and so all my stuff was being stored in another person's classroom. I didn't know I wouldn't be returning to get my things (I had to stay in MI with Gus for two months... as a result, Steve had to go and pack up my classroom and bring ALL of my stuff home).

Because I never got to pack up my things myself, I don't know where a lot of my stuff went. I'm missing things that I'm pretty sure got left behind and will never be found again. 

When I couldn't come back to NC to start the next school year, my principal had no other choice but to ask me to terminate my employment so that she could hire someone in my place. The decision to leave the classroom happened without much consideration because I didn't have a choice. I HAD to stay in MI with Gus, and the school year started before I could come back.

Since my first few months of staying home, I've come to seriously love being a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom). Mainly, because of my involvement with my MOMS Club chapter. I have made some awesome friends, and Gus has friends to play with too. We have many events each week to attend and we're very busy, engaged, and happy.

So when the boys are both in school... what will I do? Do I go back to teaching? I am so torn about this decision. Steve says it's an easy YES. We're paying student loans for grad school and he wants me to have a job that pays me for my education. I get that. 

I also know that I want to be happy.
I was a different teacher before being a mom, than I would be if I go back to the classroom. I don't see kids as just kids, they're SOMEONE'S Gus/Hugh. That's someone's sweetness, someone's pride and joy. I never got that before becoming a mom. And trust me, I would have rolled my eyes and said, "You don't teach differently if you've got kids than if you don't." But now that I'm a mom, I know with 100% confidence, I would most certainly teach differently BECAUSE I am a mom.

I was never a big fan of standardized testing. When I taught in MI it wasn't a big deal and my kids took the MEAP (Michigan Education Assessment Plan) every October and it was important, but it wasn't everything. When I moved to NC, the EOGs (End of Grade tests) were NO JOKE. Teacher's received bonus money (ABC money it was called... and while my school earned ABC money we never got it because the state froze the system and never paid the teachers their bonus money). Parents were SO crazy about EOG prep... I had EOG clinics that I offered for weeks (yes, weeks... like two months) before the actual tests, so the kids could prepare. Everyone was fanatical about the importance of the EOG scores and what it meant for the reputation of the school. Talk about high pressure.

Part of me does NOT miss the stress that comes with being a teacher. Not only dealing with 25-30 kids and their needs, making sure each IEP was being followed and everyone was challenged and achieving, but also the parents and making sure that everyone was happy, and then dealing with fellow teachers (who never seemed to have the same passion and drive that I had, which always led to frustration and bitterness), and administration. It was a constant array of stress and never enough time, and feeling like you never did a good enough job. I don't miss that.

But, the truth is, I DO miss teaching. Especially after being on Pinterest and seeing so many GREAT ideas and thinking about how to incorporate them into my classroom (yes, the classroom that I don't have). I still get excited for back to school time... and I'm not teaching. 

When I took Gus into the schools to be tested for hearing and then for his Fulton County Schools testing and his IEP meeting, I was in three different elementary schools. Each one was different, but each had that same smell that you find in an elementary school. It's comforting and familiar, and made me miss teaching. Seriously miss it.

I want to do something useful with my life. I want to feel passionate about what I do for a living and I don't know if going back to the classroom is where I'm being called to go. Obviously, I have five years to figure it all out, but I can't help but wonder where I'll be five years from now. Will I be gearing up for going back to the classroom? It'll be eight years out of the classroom... almost the same amount of time I spent in the classroom. 

Right now, there's Common Core and I know NOTHING about it. I left in June of 2010 and it came out August of 2010. It's everywhere and I know nothing about it and I'm sure would be asked a lot about it in an interview. 
Obviously, I could and would do some research about it, or whatever the latest thing is... but do I REALLY want to deal with all that?


And YES.

The thing that really gets me excited... is adoption. I feel so much passion about adoption and sharing what I know with others. I'd love to work with an adoption agency, or even make profile books for hopeful adoptive parents. I'd love to teach others about my adoption experiences and share what I know and love. 

We'll see. I'll keep praying about it. I just know that right now... tonight, I MISS teaching. I miss having a classroom and I miss being Mrs. Walker to 25-30 kiddos who will forever have me in their memories as their teacher for a year. 


But more than anything, I am delighted that I have five years before I have to think about this stuff. I have five years to enjoy being home with not an ounce of stress, other than mom-related stress. I love being a mom and staying home with my boys. 

In an ideal world, I'd be a SAHM even once they go to school. I'd love to be here when they come home from school, or be there to pick them up from school (and be able to avoid the dreaded bus). I'd love to be able to go on field trips, volunteer at school and give my time to their classrooms, and just be super present in their lives. They'll need me here even more when they're in middle school and high school. When they're in college, maybe that's when I'll go back to work.

Sounds good to me. Now I need to work on Steve and see if he'll go for that.  ;-)


will + adri said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Soak up every second that you're able to stay home without working. We had hoped I'd be able to retire by this time, but it's not in the cards for us any time soon. I am glad I work from home, but I'd surely be happier if I got to focus my time here on Dax, instead of just being in the same room with him. Hopefully over the course of the next 5 years you'll find your passion (which does sound like school) and be able to incorporate it into your momma life!

TTABaby said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What about being able to teach in the school your kiddos go to? DH is going to start in the fall as a school resource officer. One of his schools will be the school Baby Girl will go to. That means he can stop in and have lunch with her maybe once a month, as well as he can pick her up and drop her off each day. I'm looking forward to her getting to have that special Dad time.

As a working Mom my work life has definitely has changed. I no longer spend the extra hour after I was done getting paid to work still working. I make a concerted effort to get things done during my paid work time. I also stress less about the arbitrary measures my performance is judged by and do the work I feel i'm paid for. I think I'm a better therapist, I have a better work/life balance, and I think working plays a role in me being a good mom. As much as I dreaded putting Baby Girl in daycare I'm always amazed at how much she learns there as well as how much she loves me when we go to pick her up.

I don't think there is a right/wrong. Its never an easy choice.

Nice post :)

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