I know this is something we hear ALL THE TIME. For me the path was long and curvy and probably one I even tried to deny some. More than anything it was a leap of faith. I went to school
and signed up to be in education. I took a few education classes and I realized I wanted education, but not that way. I didn't want to talk about the political stuff, the methods or do this amazing portfolio of my teaching philosophy that meant nothing to anyone. I thought back to when I was young and what my true love was. There are two things that are the top of that list professionally. They are ENGLISH (and all that entails but predominatly writing and reading) and helping people.
I wanted to take classes that meant something to me like Teaching on the Margins. A class was based around the idea that there are kids that slip through the cracks and how to meet them where they are as a writing teacher. I took tons of these classes. Yea I missed out on practicums. But damn, I learned more than I could ever learn by putting together 100 reflections and tie them to my philosophy in the classroom. I had faith I would land where I was meant to. And I did.
I didn't get there without some encouragement though. My philosophy surrounds my everything I do. It is shaped by those that I admire and emulate even. Today as I sat in a professional development meeting I was lead down a long and windy road of remincing. One that warrants little shout outs to amazing teachers in my life.
I remembered Mrs. Simpson as a kindergarten teacher. She looked like a brunette Farrah Fawcett. Then Mrs. Capps who the thought of still today sends chills down my spine. That lady loved grammar and hated when you messed it up. And my fifth grade teacher who I cannot remember but who taught our whole class sign language. Now imagine teaching to a classroom full of students and you are completely deaf. He did. He taught us how to communicate with him. And Mrs. Meadows who wrote her name so flowy and beautiful on the chalkboard. She loved sitting with me and working on extra phonics books. I loved it so much she encouraged me to get "Hooked On Phonics" the advanced edition. And there were a few in between that made impacts.
But the ones that mattered are the ones that saw things in me that I couldn't see myself. They were teachers like Alison Brown Frank and Dr. Webb-Sunderhaus. They took extra time to be sure I understood my potential. They pushed me when I didn't want to be pushed anymore because they knew I needed it. They caught me when I cried from the pushing. When I look back and I think about why I am here and who I am these two women made it possible.
Alison was my 10-11th grade English teacher and journalism teacher. She was a little bit querky and even more of a rebel. She never let me think inside of the box and actually went out of her way to encourage me not to. I remember phone conversations with her after I graduated where she worried I wasn't living upto my potential. I wish she could see me now. She would be so proud. When I introduce myself lessons I use her methods. They start with, "I don't want you to walk out of here and be mini me's. I want to know what you think." When we last talked my life was headed in a very different direction and not one I am all that proud of. I am afraid she gave up on me.
Then there is Dr. Sara who I have talked about before. She is amazing woman and mentor. She grounds me when I need it and always manages to say exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. I have had I think four classes with her. She taught me a ridiculous amount about literacy and writing. But what she has taught me in life is not even countable. I can and do tell her all the time what her presence in my life has meant. I did it just the other day.
That is why I teach. For those moments where kids get it. I get to be a tiny little witness to their greatness. Sometimes it doesn't happen in their time with me. Sometimes it does. But they always know that I believe they have greatness. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told by a student, "I can't do that." I refuse to listen. I make them look me in eye and I say, "Yes, you can."
If you want to see Dr. Pierson's TED Talk on the importance of relationships in the classroom you can find it here. You will not be disappointed. She is amazing woman who gets it. When I hear speakers like this who get it, it reaffirms my faith in God that I ended up where I was meant to be no matter how I got there.