My Journey...3rd draft

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My Journey…

 

What led me to this very point in my life could very well be my goal of not only being successful but also LOVING what I do everyday. My goal of becoming a teacher began during my elementary school years. I could remember going to my cousins house and making the playrooms into classrooms and being so creative with the materials we used. I would help my cousins who were a year or two younger than me, solve math problems and I would have read alouds with them, and I loved grading papers. Growing up I would always help my aunts who were teachers set up their classrooms and just loved being creative with decorating for them. I was amazed with all the supplies they would buy for the year and how much work it was to prepare them for the new school year. These moments in my elementary school years definitely gave me such a special respect for my teachers.

My prior life experiences and situations have led me to where I am today. I remember graduating high school and deciding that I should take a semester off because I was hesitant about becoming a teacher. In the meantime, I began helping out my neighbor’s son who was in 3rd grade. I would tutor him in math, and would help him study for tests. After a few months, I saw such an improvement and it was an amazing feeling to help this boy and see his grades improve. It was after reflecting on that experience that made me really confident about becoming a teacher. Soon after, I signed up for Lehman College and received my Bachelors Degree in Sociology with a minor in Elementary Education. Immediately after, I began my Master’s in Literacy Studies 1-6.

For the next few years, I worked so hard trying to manage going to college full-time and working full-time at a restaurant, where I literally worked myself crazy to the point that could have changed my life forever. It was my last semester here at Lehman College, and I was taking two double classes in addition to student teaching from September- December at a public school in the Bronx. After two full weeks of student teaching full time during the day and working five nights until very late hours then attending Lehman twice a week, I found myself short with trying to balance everything out. One Saturday night I went to my mothers house for dinner after work, and I remember it like it was yesterday, I was sitting at her dining room table and I appeared to be in a deep stare and I remember sitting there really contemplating this crazy idea. I was going back and forth in my head with the idea that maybe I should put off student teaching until the following semester. I was scared that I was heading for a break down if I didn’t figure something out. I remember never feeling so scared before and that for someone who was always able to “figure” everything out no matter what, for the first time I didn’t know what to do. After a few minutes I began to open up to my mother who assured me that I was foolish for even thinking of putting off student teaching for a semester, she reminded me I have always been both a fighter and a survivor, and that I can do this. But even after talking to my mother, I still had doubt I was going to be able to do this for the next three months. Living on my own at the time and having a ton of bills every month made the idea of not working at my restaurant, not even an option or a thought in my head. After hours of talking to my mom, she thought the best thing to do was to call my aunt and uncle who lived in New Jersey, and ask them what they felt I should do. Ever since high school my aunt and uncle have been a huge influence in my education, and very involved. They valued education, as the best tool and opportunity people have to be successful. Both my aunt and uncle have helped me out tremendously throughout the years and have supported me throughout everything in my life. After speaking to them they came to a resolution to my problem. I was not going to stop student teaching that in fact I was to give up my restaurant for the next three months and continue working only Friday and Saturday nights. They believed this would give me the opportunity to juggle everything I needed to do for the next three months to graduate college. They told me to get my bills figured out and call them back with a dollar amount that I would need to make working at the restaurant and they would cover my bills for the next three months. At that very moment, I remember being in shock that even though I was extremely close with them, and I knew financially that wouldn’t be an issue for them, that they would actually pay me to finish college. My mother said that for the first time the entire night at her house she said I looked like I had 1,000 pounds lifted off my shoulders. For the next three months I had the best experience student teaching in the Bronx. I worked at an amazing school with incredible teachers and administrators. After three months of student teaching, going to class at night, and working part time at the restaurant, for the first time in a while I felt like a normal person, instead of being and looking exhausted from always running around. It was nice to sit back a little and enjoy my family, friends, my boyfriend of 8 years at the time. I was nervous because I really wasn’t looking forward to going back to the restaurant full time. What makes this few months of my life most meaningful to me was not only graduating college and becoming a certified teacher, but for the first time in my college career, when I thought I was going to have to postpone graduating, I received a 4.00 for my last semester. That semester I took two methods classes, which in reality were really four classes, my student teaching seminar class and all the tasks that were involved with student teaching. I couldn’t wait to call my aunt and uncle and thank them for giving me the opportunity to accomplish everything I intended on doing that semester. It was those three months that began my teaching career and for the next eight years there has been both high and lows to where I am at today.

That following January, I began subbing full-time at the school I did student teaching at. Being a sub in an elementary school really gave me the opportunity to experience different grade levels and how different 1st grade was to 5th grade. It was an excellent learning experience and then I feel for the next few years things didn’t turn out the way I had planned. The teaching career seemed to go on a freeze across the board both in NYC and in Westchester. Then suddenly I was grateful I still had my restaurant job full time so I was able to continue on in my path. That following September I began my Master’s at Lehman College in Literacy Studies 1-6, I figured since no one is getting hired in the months to come, I might as well begin my Master’s. Then two days before school started, Yonkers Board of Ed went on a hiring binge looking for certified teachers to be hired as Teaching Assistants. I figured if it was all I could get why not. Looking back to those three years as a teaching assistant, I realized all that is required to run a successful classroom. I held many positions within those three years; I was basically whatever the principal wanted me to be. For example, one year I worked strictly as a pull out teacher for small groups either in Literacy or Math. I worked with grades 3-6, I had a small classroom and collaborated with teachers to keep up with the curriculum, I conducted formal Reading assessments and would monitor their growth. I found myself by December involved in grade level meetings where I would discuss strategies that worked with their students I pulled-out. I would sit in the meetings and say to myself I am making 1/3 or less of these teachers salaries and I am telling them what a running record was. I couldn’t believe how certain teachers no matter what their age was or how long there were teaching were so unconnected to the change in the education system. I remember sitting with the assistant principals and discussing what I did while student teaching and how NYC was so “data driven” that if done correctly you can really get positive results. That year of being a teaching assistant made me realize that when I finally had my own classroom all these techniques I have seen whether good or bad, I was going to take what I learned and apply it in my teaching practice.

After three years working for the Yonkers Board of Ed as a teaching assistant, I had gotten married and had my son and I thought what am I doing. This isn’t what I signed up for when I started college. I should be making a decent salary, enjoying my summers off, and not having to worry. I had a Master’s Degree and I was making $35,000 a year. After feeling bad for myself, I decided I need to get out there and hand my resume to every single school in Westchester, and I need to fill out the application for NYC because they had lifted the freeze for the first time in three years. During the summer of 2012, a good friend of mine who was also a teaching assistant landed a job in the Bronx at a middle school. I remember thinking everyone was getting hired and I am not even getting a call back from any schools. A few days later, I met up with my friend to celebrate her landing a full time teaching job and we began to discuss her school and what she was teaching. Within a few minutes she said there was a 6th grade literacy and social studies position available at her school but she didn’t even think to tell me earlier because I only wanted to teach in an elementary school because of my 1-6 license. It was that moment that I actually pictured myself working in a middle school. My only experience of being in a middle school was when I was in middle school. Then suddenly my friend emailed her principal and I had an interview the following morning. I remember how nerve wrecking those next few hours was for me and how I could barely sleep. I was going on my first interview for a teaching position in less than 24 hours. The next day, I went on the interview and was hired on the spot. I remember walking with my Principal and Assistant Principal around this beautiful, well-kept building. I couldn’t believe how organized this middle school was, and how nice my administrators were, nothing close to the horror stories I heard from friends and family. From that moment on, I have been the happiest I have ever been and have never loved waking up for work and being around such caring and compassionate and hard-working teachers and faculty. Over the past three years I have learned what it takes for a school to be successful no matter what odds are against them and that when education is valued by parents it makes a world of a difference. Having strong and supportive administrators and faculty along with enforcing structure for students is what brings success to a school building. With this being said, being the person I am and always planning out my next steps to fulfilling my dreams I have enrolled into my 2nd Master’s Degree. Being married with two young children, and still working at my restaurant twice a week and still tutoring a few hours a week, I cannot imagine a more rewarding career choice. Being a teacher has allowed me to have a better perspective on raising my children, and has given soooo much patience. I am so grateful for where I am today in my career, and hope that starting this second master’s will bring upon a new journey for the remainder of my teaching career.