Several years ago, my school district offered teachers the opportunity to work with a local university to earn a reading endorsement. I had considered getting a reading endorsement before, but the convenience of the classes being in-district, the lure of reimbursement, and the credits toward licensure sealed the deal.
Even after taking several classes, I saw the program as beneficial to my teaching, but I wasn't hooked. Then came my practicum. During this time I would needed to complete case-studies with individual students and create lessons for my classes. A spark was lit. Seeing the strategies that I had been taught, truly heighten students' confidence and create literacy gains far beyond what anyone expected made me feel like a real teacher. Someone who could make a difference.
Then I had two of my own kiddos, I chose to move to a part-time schedule, and I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. My focus and love for teaching literacy was still there, it was just buried for a bit. Two years ago, for some reason -I can't remember exactly why- I decided to ask to teach a reading intervention class. Actually, I practically begged. Last year, I got my wish. I even got two.
Although it was a lot of work, the rewards of teaching these two classes were ones that I could have never imagined. The spark that lived in me years before, was back. I gained confidence in my abilities as a teacher. When students made progress, I was not only proud of them as if they were my own children, but I was proud of myself for helping them to see their potential. It was wonderful.
As the schedule for this year got closer and closer, I was anxiously awaiting more literacy intervention classes. However, I was also nervous (as I am every year) about the hours my schedule would require. When I began my part-time venture, I was exactly half time and in the morning. Pure gold. The next two years, I was .6, but one year in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Last year, I was .8- meaning I taught all except one class. Each schedule had it's own struggles, but last year's was the hardest. It was the longest day, the most preps (classes to plan for), and the most difficult for my boys and their schedules. I didn't want to do that again.
When I left work in June, the schedule itself was looking good. .6 in the morning. Pretty great. There were only two literacy intervention classes, but I was still excited. Then I got a phone call. Would I be interested in working at the other middle school as well, teaching two more reading intervention classes? Uh, yes! Well, maybe. These classes would be added to my already planned schedule. Meaning .8 again. Not just .8, but .8 with travel between schools daily. Scary. Super scary.
I was extremely worried about how this schedule would work with our family needs. My oldest would be starting kindergarten, so his start/end times had to be considered. And what about my youngest? He sure hasn't gotten much of an advantage of having a part-time working mama. What about me? Could I really handle a more complicated and challenging schedule than the one I believed I had barely survived last year? I only had an hour or so to decide, so I had to think fast.
I was absolutely terrified of what this new schedule could mean, but I had been waiting for a very long time to show what I could do. I wanted the challenge. Helping those who struggle with reading is my passion. Although it should have been a much harder decision, it wasn't. At the time. I took it on. Reluctantly.
As the summer days went faster and my first day back to work got closer, my excitement to teach grew, but my fear of the unknown also took over many of my thoughts. I came to the conclusion that this year would be rough. I would love my classes/students, but the schedule would be something I would just need to get through. Next year, it will be better. Those of you who have read my past thoughts, have heard that line before.
Then it started. My colleagues at the other middle school welcomed me with open arms. Still a little nervous. Then kids came and every reservation flew out the window. As the first month of the school year is coming to the end, I can confidently and happily say, this has been the BEST month of my teaching career. The schedule has been a breeze, both at school and at home. My boys have settled into their schedules flawlessly and I love what I do each and every day.
I can not believe how empowering this decision has been. I had no idea what I was missing out on. I am so very thankful that I was offered this opportunity and that I was brave enough to give it a shot. All those quotes about facing your fear are truth in the purest form. Do what you love, especially when it terrifies you.