Since I only have FOUR days left of student-teaching, I decided I needed to go back and reflect on this CRAZY journey of teaching over 100 students how to read and write this year.
Student teaching has most certainly shifted my world view, challenged me like nothing ever has before and forced me to confront my insecurities & weaknesses. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into or how brash my students could be in six months. I’ve seen daily that I am completely disorganized, I change my plans last minute, I lose things when I’m stressed, I talk way to fast, I say “yall” too much, I never take attendance, I hate writing passes to the bathroom, I touch students shoulders until its borderline creepy and I play with my hair when confused.
I had no idea how my student’s love and support at the end of the process would make me swell with pride. I feel I have adopted over 30 students, some of whom are living in the roughest neighborhoods of Athens, and that gives me purpose like I could have never dreamed.
Where did this all begin – this degree which has cost me thousands of dollars, a couple of tears and given me eye-opening, life-changing moments in the classroom?
I started to think back on my VERY sporadic, ignorant decision to pursue my Masters Degree. I was working in Atlanta for an AMAZING company with lovely co-workers and I gave that comfy life up rather quickly. I already took the LSAT once, got accepted to some mediocre law-schools (yeah… I was planning on taking the LSAT again), worked under some of the most brilliant attorneys and knew my charted course of action, or so I thought.
Why did I give it up?
Because I read or heard from someone, somewhere that whatever you do in your free time is what you should make your professional career. As everyone knows, I spend countless hours blogging and journaling and I decided on a whim in that high rise in Atlanta to abandon my course on the “law path” and become a Language Arts teacher for the poor & marginalized.
Did I think through the long-term implication of this? Did I do any sort of research on graduate programs? Had I ever walked into a public school classroom? Hell no. Is my name Katie Baker? Yes. So that means I just jumped into my LIFE CALLING by following my emotions and my passions with ZERO thoughts on budget, details or long-term thinking. Remember, Judge & I were long-distance and he is the person who brings those balancing qualities to my otherwise whirl-wind existence. I don’t even remember filling out Mercer’s application. I didn’t think twice about spending 25,000 on the education.
Is it one of the best decisions I ever made? Absolutely. I am more alive today teaching every day for FREE than I have ever been in my life. I am happy, satisfied and full every night I lay my head on my pillow and I am still living off loans and a very part-time income.
I visited Dr. Weaver’s class on Wednesday and she reminded us that every action in the classroom starts as a theory or core idea. This is why professors find it necessary for us to read the scholarly academic theory though it may seem pedantic, boring and irrelevant at times.
So I decided to go back and look through my post and discover the beliefs and theories that ground me as a teacher. I went back to this post I wrote when I was still working at said high-rise in Atlanta. It made me smile. I believe the Lord placed inside of me a “fire shut up in my bones,” or a calling to step into what I have stepped into. When I interviewed at my placement school two weeks ago to remain with my student’s next year, the principal told me point blank, “It takes a calling to work in this school. It’s not for everyone. You need to feel you are placed on this earth to break though to these students. How do you plan on reaching the students who have never been reached?” It wasn’t hard to articulate what I’ve been doing with some success now for a semester.
I wrote this post before I ever stepped foot in a public school class and all those beliefs remain anchored today. Every word of this vision still resounds in my Spirit and in my classroom.
I am thankful for foresight. I hope this vision carries me through my first year teaching my students. Now the tricky part is learning to let these students go for a season when I fly half way across the world.
Claim Your Voice. Tell Your Story. Break down the Walls.