School ended two weeks ago, yet I found myself back in the classroom on Monday for a full day. I had been telling friends that I was attending Boot Camp, and they all looked at me like I had started speaking in tongues or something. "Boot Camp? Like push-ups and that shit and people screaming at you?" After explaining that it was a technology boot camp and we would be learning new educational technology implementation strategies and pretending not to notice when they yawned at the second word of that explanation, I started telling people that I was taking a summer class . . . because that didn't require any further words since I have always been a learner first and a teacher second. Put any nonfiction book in front of me, and I'll read it . . . and then tell you about it. See? Learner, teacher.
I think I've wanted to be a teacher my entire life. Sure, I wanted to be a nun for a year (stop laughing), but my first few teachers were all nuns. Then, after our sister Bridget was born premature, I wanted to be a neonatologist for the longest time . . . but honestly, I should have pursued teaching from the word go. It would have saved me years of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I would have had an excuse for all the bookwormish behavior that I exhibit. Teaching was such a logical fit, but god, did I fight it for a long, long time.
When the Girls entered kindergarten, I helped out at their school as much as I could and met so many dedicated teachers. They didn't ask for a lot, save maybe some books or left over craft supplies, but they changed more lives than they could ever know. I credit them with pushing me into the teaching profession. Later, when I worked as an instructional aide, the teachers with whom I worked on a daily basis provided more help, support, and knowledge than I ever learned in my coursework. I credit them with giving me the confidence and tools necessary to survive in a middle school. Now, as a teacher, I have the privilege of working with people who put kids first and everything else second. They willingly come in on a gorgeous summer day to learn new techniques because they want the best for their students. They put whatever politics are going around about teaching aside in favor of educating the kids sitting in front of them. I credit them with keeping me fresh, giving our students 110%, and never accepting that "good" is "good enough."
Teaching is in the news these days and not for the best of reasons. Teachers are greedy; they're overpaid; we only work ten months a year; if you can do, and if you can't teach . . . dare I continue? There has been a huge upsurge in homeschooling and cyberschooling recently, and I totally get why people would choose to go that route . . . honestly, I do. I can't read the paper without looking at some piece on how cutting education is our only hope for financial solvency. In a district about 20 miles from here, they cut 72 jobs, including all of their technology positions. Think about it. You use a computer and the Internet and so do your kids . . . who do you think knows more? In the past three days, I've learned more about technology integration than I had during most of the previous school year (I also learned I still hate group work, but that is a post for another time). Without a technology coach, I would be lost and floundering. I credit them with pushing me to be better than I ever could hope to be, helping when I am pretty sure that things have gone pear shaped.
PS - Clearly, I was creatively brain dead after this week . . . but I did sign up for Picture Summer so maybe there is hope for me yet.