You know those people who have ALWAYS known they wanted to be a teacher?
Yeah…well…I’m not one of them.
Oh, I’m not saying I didn’t do my fair share of playing school when I was younger. My dolls Lolly, Pixie, and Annabelle frequently joined my stuffed teddy bear Teddy, and sock monkey Charlie, behind shoe box desks arranged in neat rows on the floor in the family room.
There were read alouds. Math fact practice. Spelling tests. And worksheets. Lots of worksheets. (This was, after all, the 1970’s. Worksheets were legal then.)
I mastered writing the fancy ‘100%’ on the top of worksheets. (Usually Lolly and Pixie’s—they were the smart kids. Well behaved, too.)
I even have teaching ‘in my blood’. My Grandma Esbrook taught in a one room schoolhouse. My Aunt Janet taught first grade. My Uncle Jim, high school math.
In spite of this all, teaching wasn’t on my radar until my second year of college.
I don’t remember exactly how I went from majoring in English and Journalism to Elementary Education, but I did.
I do know it had something to do with this person. (She’s going to hate these pictures…she loves getting her picture taken just as much as I do, which probably explains why I can’t find anything recent.)
She literally saved my life.
And there was a moment of clarity when I realized I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in the world, just like she had.
So education it was.
I graduated with honors, but couldn’t get a job teaching. (I have a few excuses, but this is neither the time, nor place.) This devastated me at the time, but in hindsight was a blessing, as it greatly simplified the decision for me to stay at home when my kids were born. An opportunity for which I am forever grateful.
At any rate, my dream of teaching faded away; I even let my license expire.
And then one day, when my youngest was about to start first grade, I was asked to start up the second grade program at the school affiliated with my church. I was granted a temporary license, and quickly found myself taking classes to get my license reinstated.
All while being a first year teacher.
Kind of a big deal looking back on it all.
So in the fall of 2001, more than a decade after graduating from college, my teaching career began. And throughout the years, I moved from the private school setting to that of the public school, switching schools four times, and changing grade levels six.
And this past summer, after 17 years of being an educator, I resigned. My husband’s new job brought us down south. Way too far to commute.
So what now? (I’ve been asked that question a lot.)
Being a teacher has been a significant part of my identity for many years, so continuing to teach would be the easy answer.
It’s what I know.
But is it what I want to do next?
I truly feel blessed to have the opportunity to figure it out.
There certainly are aspects of teaching I miss.
I miss the people I worked with. I miss the laughter. I miss Tuesday morning coffee deliveries by some sweet middle schoolers. I miss creating. I miss organizing.
Who knows, I may even miss the challenge of writing my effectiveness plan next spring.
And I really miss those days when I would sit next to a student and talk with them about their writing. I learned so much…about their writing…about their learning…and most importantly, about them.
Writing was my way of connecting to my students.
But…is teaching my passion?
I know what passion looks like; I have been incredibly fortunate to work with many passionate educators throughout the years.
I could tell you about the teacher whose creativity routinely filled her classroom with energy and excitement. (Each week the kids would enthusiastically sing ‘The Wheel of Fortune” theme song as she spun the “Wheel o’ Jobs”.)
I could tell you about the teacher whose love of reading and writing inspired not only her students to become readers and writers, but her coworker (namely me) to become excited about teaching reading and writing.
I could tell you about the teacher whose desire to learn continually pushes her to build on her own effectiveness as an educator, creating a unique, innovative classroom experience for all of her students.
I could tell you about the teacher who is so loved, her students seek her out when they are having a bad day. (And conspire to bring her corndogs on her birthday.)
I could tell you about the teacher who collected clothes, toiletries, and household items for a former student in need of a fresh start.
I could tell you about the teachers who lose sleep when a student fails to demonstrate growth.
I could tell you about the teachers who routinely give up lunches and planning periods to meet with students.
These are passionate teachers. They are teachers who love what they do, and what they do energizes them.
But am I passionate teacher?
Am I passionate about teaching?
Does teaching fulfill me?
But not nearly as much as I need it to.
And I truly feel God has given me the opportunity to find my passion.
So I am actively seeking my purpose during my season of ‘pause’. And I am excited (and yes…anxious) about what my future holds.