Skip to content

At the beginning

February 1, 2010

In some ways, there is no beginning. Everything comes from something else. In my case, my journey to teaching began long before this. Ever since I started college in 1995, I imagined I would end up teaching. You see, I was majoring in French and Russian and wanted nothing to do with business, government, or translation. There’s not much left for foreign languages. That said, I was shy. Even when I knew I was right about something, I never said a word in class. I was resentful of teachers who thought that meant I wasn’t prepared. I was always prepared; I just wasn’t always brave.

I had a French teacher in junior high who was a really sweet lady. I always thought of myself like her. She couldn’t control the classroom. No one ever got anything done, because the kids yelling out “Bonn-jer peoples!” always had their way. I learned a smattering of badly pronounced French words and a relatively good grounding in grammar, but most of that was from reading the textbook, not from her teaching. I did not want to end up like her, and I was convinced that I had her disposition. I was convinced that I was a doormat and would never make a good teacher . . . unless I was teaching college.

I started my grad school program with lofty ambitions. People told me I was ambitious, but I thought they were crazy. I just wanted a degree so I could teach at the college level. I wasn’t a real scholar, so I didn’t have to worry about all that scholarly stuff, right?

Wrong. I got my Masters in French after three years, and worked on a Russian Masters for another three years. Near the end of my second year, I got extremely burned out. I took the rest of the year off and tried to convince myself I was giving myself time to study for the Masters exam. When the Masters exam came, I failed it.

During my years as a grad student, I taught first and second year French and Russian classes, and I loved it. I knew I wanted to teach, but I was getting more and more bitter about the need to be a “real scholar” just to teach. Yes, I knew research was necessary, but I did not understand really how important it was.

After leaving the Russian department, I was unemployed for a year, living off of an allowance from my parents. I finally landed a job as a developmental instructor at a center for developmentally disabled adults. It was challenging because there were never enough of us to give the people what they needed and deserved. I left every day feeling I’d failed these wonderful people by not spending enough time on teaching communication. I was miserable because I cared too much.

I also learned how to get a backbone. I learned how to deal with people who grabbed and pushed, who refused to listen, who spilled things, who yelled at other people and at me. I learned to be the center of calm in a sea of chaos. I learned what I had never thought was in me to be. I learned I can be a teacher.

So, here I am. I’ve spent the last two years taking English classes so that I can be certified as an English teacher, since they do not have a French or Russian program. I am just starting my third week of my first education class, and I’ve never been more excited in my life (well, except for when I’m starting a new novel). I want to do this more than anything I’ve wanted in my life. So, here I am. At the beginning.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: