You know, I never wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t a hey-I-might-think-about-it kind of thought. It was a firm refusal, arrogant, I-think-my-life-was-built-for-more, I’m-not-wearing-cat-sweaters verdict. (Yes, I was under the delusion that all teachers wore cat sweaters). My senior year at North Georgia College and State University confirmed this proclamation when I was forced to share classrooms with pre-education majors. With their colored pencils and foldables in tote, they complained about proximity, rubric construction, and bulletin boards. These were not my people. My people were the analytical, satirical, argumentative over literary qualms people. I’m even embarrassed to say that my senior capstone project was centered on the thesis that education degrees were nonsensical. All educators should be required to have content degrees versus degrees on pedagogy. Even though I still think there is a lot of merit to that thesis, it was clearly an arrogant and ignorant 21-year-old writing that capstone report.
However, God put two dear friends (later turned bridesmaids) in my life who challenged all my judgmental assumptions. They were both English Education majors who opened my English Publication major eyes. We shared courses, commonalities, and convictions. All young. All engaged. All focused on our lives ahead of us, not the absurdities of college drama. They both exuded such passion for young adults and faith for the future, they starkly juxtaposed the annoyances of those I judged all education majors from. By the spring of my senior year, I was taking a heavy course load (including Spanish 2001 and Spanish 2002 at the same time), working full time in retail management, and planning a wedding that was just 6 days after graduation (Yep, I was crazy!). Both my English Education friends were finishing up student teaching and one friend had already been offered the job she was currently learning from. She knew of another opening at that school, same department and hallway, and persuaded me to apply. With seriously no thought on obtaining an interview, I applied mainly to appease her kindness. I was looking for opportunities to break out of the retail rut and get my feet wet in a career, but education was clearly far from my sight.
You know, I wanted to be Barbra Walters. Ok, maybe not the overly teased bangs or radical disposition spoken from The View, but I want to make a mark on the news just as she had done. I wanted to write, and interview, and tell stories. I wanted to inspire, encourage, and lead. To me, Barbara Walters was all of this. She was a pioneer. She was significant. She was respected.
As a little kid, I have this memory of me standing in my front year on Union Church Road, wearing my mom’s stethoscope around my neck. With the ear pieces in, I would take the diaphragm chest piece and would speak directly into it. Really, I was corresponding. I was live from Union Church Road letting the viewers know that indeed the mail was being delivered at that very moment. I would even take Kermit the Frog’s broadcasting catchphrase; “Hi, ho. This is Kermit the Frog here reporting live from Sesame Street.”
Somewhere in the shuffle of college classes, retail management, and pre-married bliss, I forgot about my passions and instead focused on finding that career, you know, the one that pays the bills.
Well, a week after haft heartedly applying to teach, I was hustling across campus running late from work and even later to class when my phone rang. Dr. Terry Sapp and Mr. Bill Thompson from Chestatee High School requested an interview . . . with ME! What was I was going to say to these two lifetime educators? With, I’m sure, an out of breath response, I set up a date and time. I had little time to panic as I continued running down the hill from Jason’s apartment at Sherman Green (where I parked to avoid paying for a parking permit) into the always freezing Newton Oaks building.
One week later with my crisp J.Crew navy blue suit and matching pumps, I printed a fresh copy of my resume and prepared for questions that I had no idea how to answer. In hindsight, the interview is somewhat of a blur, but I do remember Dr. Sapp complimenting me on my suit choice. I later learned that a compliment from Dr. Sapp was a major win. I would spend my first couple of years in fear of her, and the rest in absolute awe.
Well, as you can tell, I got the job. What were they thinking? I knew nothing! Literally nothing! I did not know about classroom management, or GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) or EQ’s (Essential Questions). Everything I knew about education came from the other side, from observing, from being a student myself. And not always a good one at that. I mean, let’s not even talk about math!
But like everything else in my life, I have always learned best by doing. I’m a kinesthetic learner (yes, teaching has taught me about learning profiles too). I jumped feet first into the educational world, luckily surrounded by advanced swimmers and industrial-strength personal flotation devices. I went under more times than I care to count with more teacher fails than I’ll ever share but somewhere along the way, I figured something out: if you don’t love the kids, the kids will never learn to love. They will never love the curriculum, each other, or themselves. So that’s what I decided to do, about three years in, I began focusing all my attention on the learners. The curriculum, instead, I would learn right along with them.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation