Timeline of my Teaching Development

What has contributed to the educator you are today?  I'm participating in a teacher blogger challenge from Hot Lunch Tray.  This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for Educators.  I feel like I could write a novel about this topic, but I'm going to try a timeline approach:
Age 0-10
When I was in first grade, my teacher gave us the prompt, "What do you want to be when you grow up."  I said an artist, a teacher, or a mom.  I loved school so I never wanted to leave it.  This experience taught me that school = SECURITY.

When I was in upper elementary, I taught a classmate a math concept by explaining and illustrating it.  My classmate said graciously, "You should be a teacher when you grow up!"  I thought of a few nasty kids in the class and answered, "No thank you."  This experience taught me: not everyone, but others besides me really do VALUE learning. 
Age 11-20

I was one of the older kids in my learn to swim class at the YMCA.  I wasn't bad at it, but I think they probably promoted me through the ranks a little quicker than they might have so that I didn't get embarrassed.  Either way, it boosted my confidence and I liked it.  So with a little encouragement from my mom, as soon as I was old enough I transitioned from taking swimming classes to teaching them and becoming a lifeguard.  I worked for and with really nice people there, so I double majored in psychology and elementary teaching in college.  This experience taught me:  CONTENT DELIVERY. 

My last year of college was tough.  After 3 years of being the top of my class, a bad practicum experience in a middle school (not elementary, like I signed up for) nearly ended my career before it started.  This experience taught me:  PEDAGOGY. 

Age 21-30+

It was hard to get a full time teaching job.  I took a "part time" job teaching preschool at a private daycare where they cared more about profits than what we actually did with the kids all day.  I was on my own in terms of curriculum and not paid for supplies or prep time.  I couldn't stay late to decorate or set up because I had to punch out.  This experience taught me:  PRIORITIES. 

Then I got a job in a public school with a consortium for the hearing impaired.  Although it was not a professional position, it was finally a professional setting.  I worked with a teacher who was enthusiastic and inspiring.  So different from my practicum and preschool positions.  Mrs. Swift, I would not be the teacher I am today if you hadn't shown me how to captivate a classroom full of children all day, every day.  Thank you.  This experience taught me:  FLOW over the course of a day, week, and unit. 

A year later I got a full time teaching position 100 miles away.  I finally got my own apartment and taught 7 to 4 at a charter school.  The school climate was draining.  Our dean collected our lesson plans weekly (the format came out to 10 pages per week).  We sent progress reports home every 2 weeks.  We started our mornings with a staff meeting followed by a whole school assembly.  Then we started every subject with a Do Now.  No talking allowed for at least 3 minutes.  We were on camera being watched by our dean.  They could flick on audio any time without us knowing.  If we were sick there was no substitute, although we did have 2 teachers in every room.  The neighborhood was so sketchy that the custodian walked me out of the building at 4:30 during the dark winter months.  If it rained there was no recess that day; the rooms were only big enough to hold desks, not play.  Our charter was to pass the state's standardized test, so if we didn't, we'd be shut down.  We were caught off guard the year we got laid off during the summer (no contract, no union) but unable to collect unemployment.  That was the year I sent out resumes elsewhere.  This experience taught me:  DISCIPLINE. 

When I arrived for the interview at my current school, I knew I belonged there.  It felt a confidence I hadn't felt before in a teaching interview.  My fourth graders that year had had 3 weeks with a teacher who took the reading specialist position, and by the end I loved them so much that I wanted to loop with them.  There were a handful of other teachers my age at the school, hired the same year as me (a month earlier) so I was part of a cohort of newbies that I have "grown up" with.  Although our first principal stressed a lot of people out, my horror stories of that charter school made this one feel like heaven.  She collected lesson plans like at my last job, but I got to use my own format.  Reports 6 times a year was nothing.  Having a union and a contract made me feel secure regardless of the state testing, sick time, and summer pay.  This experience allowed me:  SELF DIRECTED GROWTH. 

Our current principal is retiring, and has been even more relaxed than the first.  He doesn't collect plan books.  He cares more about Responsive Classroom than MCAS scores.  This experience taught me:  CHILD CENTERED TEACHING.

I feel like I've left so much out of this post because every group of children has taught me so much along the way.  I think I can sum that up with DIVERSITY, not just in a cultural sense, but also in abilities, personalities, needs, and interests too.  Getting married has taught me about BALANCE.  My colleagues have taught me about TEAMWORK.  I know I'm a better team member than I was at the start of my career, and that's thanks to the teachers at my current school.  So basically, the things that contributed to the educator I am today is: college, work, and family.  That's life, right? 

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  1. Anonymous11:47 PM EDT

    Thanks for this post Amber! I love your timeline approach - and recognize myself along your chain of events too.

  2. Great to hear it out.


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