Monday, November 24, 2008

Admission, Decision, Transition

In June, 1986, I graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in German Ed. The BA was in German, and I had what I think they called a "Professional Studies" in Education. I had completed all the University requirements in the Ed department to qualify me for my certificate to teach German at the secondary school level: 6th through 12th grades. Two years after that, I received in the mail a new certificate stating that I was now certified K through 12, without ever having taken a single elementary ed class. A few years later, my certificate expired, but by then I had launched myself in to a new career, my current one. The first year after graduating from WWU, I worked various part-time jobs as well as working as a substitute teacher in two school districts. I credit this experience with the fact that I have been a flight atendant for the past twenty years. Well, for one year after the substitute teaching nightmare, I worked at a historical museum (THE Historical Museum for Washington State) but my career for the last twenty years has been about as far away from a classrom as you can get. Until very recently, I thought it would be absolutely impossible for me to ever want to teach again. For anyone who might be interested in a career as a flight attendant I issue this warning - the lifestyle can be addicitive: international travel, pass priveleges, flexibility with your schedule. Many of us were hired not believing that we would be making careers of it, but - and please pardon the pun as well as the tired cliche here - time flies, when you're having fun. Well, I've had my fun. Late last month I turned 45, and there's a possibility that I am now eligible for a sort of retirement package with my company. And while I never thought I would say it, I'm thinking of going back to teaching. There are several reasons why I am once again interested in the field of education, not the least of which is the fact that I now have a student living under the same roof as me who, I am told, seems to be struggling in school. Ben entered Kindergarten mere weeks after his 5th birthday. If you want to ask 'why so early?' I'll tell you: it was all me me me. I was selfish, I couldn't wait. There were no children his age in the neighborhood, and I wanted, needed for him to be out of the house - playing, learning, whatever, but I needed some "me" time. As awful as this may sound (especially as indelicately as I have put it) I really have no regrets. Ben is a smart kid, he did well, considering he was nearly a year younger than some of his classmates, and he wasn't really the only young kid in his class. He kept up sufficiently to be passed on to first grade. But by then, I was starting to care about his education (I know, I KNOW, but stay with me) and TH and I were both interested in becoming involved with not only Ben's general education, but the school, teachers, and administration providing it. If you've read this blog since it's beginning, you might remember my dismay with the distinct lack of involvement of the majority of parents - if not, you can read about it here. In the back of my mind, even as we sat in those tiny chairs in that classroom at the "PTSO" meeting, I was deciding to enroll Ben in private school, which indeed we did. Ben started first grade last year at a very small Montessori school a half hour drive from our house. While the distance and lengthy travel time to and from school weighed heavily on the minus side, I considered the environment - six students at the elementary level, and one elementary level teacher - a major plus. Granted Ben's teacher was pregnant and would be on maternity leave for three months in the spring but still I figured the favorable teacher-student ratio would give him the boost he needed to stay at grade level, might even propell him beyond. During the fall session parent-teacher conference, she was enthusiastic about Ben's imagination and assured me he was progressing normally. When I expressed my concerns with some small issues, she told me that his difficulties were normal for his developmental level, but we'd watch in case he didn't progress beyond them. This school also provided me with an ideal opportunity to not only get involved in a fund-raising project for the school but also to meet and get to know four really wonderful women, also parents of students at the school. The auction was a great success, and I think we were all riding a self-congratualtory high when we were told that the elementary teacher would not be returning after spring break. Ah, I thought, new baby - who could blame her. I even said this to the schools director when she gave me the sad news. She gave a non-committal shrug and chuckled a little. The short verson is that a new elementary ed teacher was never hired, leaving the school's director and one other teacher to educate all of the students, a range that includes preschoolers on up to second grade. As you may have guessed, there is a Looooong version to all of this as well, but that is surely a post in itself. So basically: admitting that I am ready to say goodbye to a career that I have loved for the past twenty years, but deciding that I'd rather make a career transition back to education, my original plan. Hah! What goes around comes around, right? Am I scared? Yeah a little, but also very excitied, and this feels so right. I really miss my guys when I'm away at work these days. Plus there is really so very MUCH to do here, and I don't want to miss any of it.