As many of you know, for the last three years I've taught a "Composition & Literature" course through our church's homeschool co-op. I started teaching because I'd just switched my major (to English) and everyone kept asking me, "So, are you going to teach?" I'd never taught anyone anything, but apparently teacher was high on the list of options for an English major, so I figured I'd better figure out if I liked teaching or not!
I signed up to teach a six-week course in poetry for sixth through twelfth graders; I was supposed to have eight students, then a few days before class I had ten, then I got the call asking if I could handle twelve, and then the first day of class showed up and I ended up with fourteen students.
I quickly discovered that I loved teaching! :) When the six weeks were over, I signed up again to teach an essay-writing class, which evolved into the "Composition & Literature" class I taught
Over the last few years, I kept learning and growing as a teacher - I honestly think I learned as much from my students as they learned from me! I loved teaching - I loved figuring out how I was going to get across new concepts, developing strategies, designing worksheets, etc. In fact, last year when I graduated and was job hunting, I stuck some of the stuff I'd done in a binder and sent it in with my application and resume, and the binder got me an interview along with two other applicants, each having over fifteen years experience teaching and writing.
Although I have good memories of all three years, last year was especially incredible. I had older students, so I was able to teach literature that was a little more mature, and I had intelligent students who were able to really digest the literature and apply the truth in it to their lives. I loved getting papers back to grade - often the students would point out aspects or elements of the literature that I hadn't fully appreciated before.
Tonight I was out with some friends, including the mom of three of my students from last year. We started chatting about the co-op, and she shared with me that she felt that being in my class last year had prepared her sons for this year's school year (they have switched to a literature-based curriculum). I was really touched - her sons are really smart guys who constantly kept me on my toes, and I was sort of always wondering "Are they bored? Do they care about what I'm teaching? Do I look like an idiot?" It was such an affirmation to hear that I'd impacted them in even a small way.
Anyway. The co-op has been in choppy waters for the last few weeks; we lost our director this year, so most of the work has fallen on our pastor, who already has a full plate. We couldn't seem to get a schedule together, then once we finally did get a schedule together the class offerings were pretty slim. I knew we were in danger of being cancelled, but I was sure that something would come up and save the day.
Tonight I got the email - there won't be a co-op this year. We'll regroup and reorganize and try again in 2011, but it'll be a year before I'm able to get inside a classroom again.
I'll be okay, but tonight I'm feeling sad. I'll miss teaching - it was the one way I was actually using that degree I earned, and I have to admit I panicked a little bit when I realized I wouldn't be teaching this year, because I kept thinking, "What will motivate me to keep reading, keep developing lesson plans, keep growing?"
Well, I'll keep growing/learning/reading because it's who I am. I don't need a classroom (as a student or a teacher) to keep exploring the world around me. I explore the world around me as a person, and I bring that to the classroom as a teacher. :) It's a subtle distinction, but an important one!
I'm trusting that God has my best interests at heart, here. I'll have lots to keep busy with this year - teaching the twins, teaching Ruth, chasing after Abigail, etc. Maybe I'll finally get that educational blog off the ground. Maybe having a year off guilt-free is really a gift.
Maybe tomorrow I'll feel that way. Tonight, I'm feeling some sadness.