Sometimes it’s funny little things that spark memories in our minds. I am in the process of figuring out what the state department of education needs to add a special education certificate to my existing licensure. I’ve uploaded transcripts from getting my masters in it, a letter of eligibility from the university I attended, test scores, etc. I know one test I still need to take, but the department is figuring out if I need to take a phonics class (because when I got my initial elementary teaching degree way back when, phonics wasn’t a separate course).
At any rate, I was looking through what’s on the state department site for my licensures to make sure my ducks are in a row, and I clicked on previous certificates and got to looking at their dates. It’s just two dates with a dash between and an issue date, but oh my goodness! It made me think about my teaching career over the years, and the memories just came flooding back!
The first issue date…I remember being so excited!!! I had graduated with my bachelor’s degree and applied to a bunch of districts. I had several interviews…and I got hired! I remember how excited I was, how I literally jumped up and down and squealed like a little kid when I got the offer. Thinking about it made me laugh so hard this morning.
There was a very hard year of teaching in a set of those dashes, and that was the year I decided I wasn’t going to be a teacher anymore. I left that job at the end of that school year. I interviewed for other places but my heart wasn’t in it; I didn’t care that I didn’t get any callbacks. I started down a different path, homeschooling my kids, and I truly thought I’d never look back. I even let my licensure lapse. There is a reminder there in the issue dates that I went back part time and realized how much I love teaching…and the dates and dashes show it by a flurry of licensure renewals and new college classes/training to do so.
There are dates and dashes that represent a time when I knew I needed a change in the district I was in and started to actively job hunt again. There were resumes and cover letters and interviews. There was a sadness when I didn’t get offered a job which I was 100% certain I was going to be offered, and it was a huge blow to my self-esteem and self-confidence. In retrospect, it was such a blessing that I didn’t get it because if I had, I wouldn’t have ultimately spent all of the time I did with Gramma Izzie, and I wouldn’t have continued my education or stepped out into the field of special education so I am grateful that I didn’t get that job after all.
There are so many students that I remember when I look back over all dates and dashes for the years I’ve been involved in education. I will close with something that happened last week and which I am still ridiculously happy about: when leaving a lunch with my youngest daughter, Sahara, I was stopped by a young man at another table. He started talking with me, and I’ll be honest: it took me a minute to place him. I knew he was a previous student, but I was racking my brain to remember which class/year I had him. He told me all about his job and his plans for the future…and just as I left, I remembered: this was a student I worked and worked with and taught to read at a much higher reading level when he was in junior high. I left that restaurant knowing that for at least one student, I’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to forget that down here in the trenches, teaching letter sounds and comprehension and reading books over and over and over…but every once in a while, funny little things will happen to remind me that I have found my calling in teaching and am making a difference in kids’ lives. I will rarely see that difference, but sometimes I will talk with an old student or his/her parent(s), and that’s enough to keep me afloat for weeks. Sometimes I will see those old certificates and remember how hard I’ve worked to get where I am now, and it reminds me that while I have no idea where I’m ultimately headed in the rest of this teaching career, I know that I love it!
I teach kids to read and to write and to think critically, and I love doing it! I love the funny little things that remind me of this every so often…and how they always pop up just when I most need the reminder.