The answer to that is as simple and complex as life in general. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school with my dolls and stuffed animals in the front room of my grandparents house (the house I grew up in.) There was an old desk in there, and I would set up my ‘students’ and teach them. I remember always asking to borrow a coffee cup (because teachers drink coffee!) Memories of the coffee cups with the orange and red chickens on them come to mind. How I actually got to be a teacher is the complicated part.
At the age of 15 I got my first job working at a YMCA daycare in Pennsylvania. I loved those kids. I still remember a lot of their names and I think about them from time to time. I learned a LOT there. Throughout my high school years, I worked at 3 different day care centers. Each was VERY differently run, and I got a lot of experience and formed a lot of opinions about how I thought things should be run. Then again, I was young and idealistic. Since daycare centers close at 6, that left my evenings open for lots of babysitting opportunities. Kids were my life. My senior year of high school I had enough credits to go to a vocational school for early childhood. It was my best year of school!
After graduating high school I moved to Indiana where I worked in another daycare until I got married and started having kids of my own. When they were young I stayed home with them, and went back to work when our church started a daycare. Alisha was 3 at the time. Eventually I ended up being part of the school and teaching the Pre-Kindergarten class. I’ve been doing that for 8 years now. All that to say that I’ve worked with every age group from infant on up to school age, and in many different centers, yet never have I gone to college.
This last Thursday and Friday I attended the Illinois ASCD PreK and K conference. It was awesome! The presenters had so many great ideas to share and I learned a lot. I also had to fight the same demons I face every year when I go to conferences like this. You see, most of the other people at these conferences (in fact ALL I’ve ever talked to) have an early childhood education degree from a college. Some of the presenters have doctorates in numerous areas. In other words, I fight within myself the whole time that I am a poser, and I do NOT belong there. Even though I enjoy the sessions, take tons of notes, and basically get my engine revved up to finish out the school year strong, my mind is telling me I am not what I could be. I start to compare myself with others. That’s pretty foolish. I am me, and they are them. We’re different, and God is writing different stories for everyone. Your story will not look like mine, and that’s as it should be. Unfortunately, it took me until today to really remember that. To get what I know in my heart to resonate in my head.
I know I’m a good teacher. Could I be better at what I do? Sure, we all could! I’m always being asked if I would ever consider going to college to get my degree. My answer is that it’s not completely out of the question, but with 2 daughters in high school who will be in college themselves in a few years, I’m not sure it’s feasible. But like I said, God is writing my story, and whatever he has in the next chapter…I’m all for it.
I’m curious, why do you do what you do?