Monday, December 31, 2012

My Teacher Story: Part 1

Ten years ago I was a freshman in college.  If someone had told me then where I would be now, I would have never believed it.  I had absolutely no intention to become a high school math teacher teaching special needs kids at a vocational school.  Ten years ago that probably would have sounded like a complete and absolute nightmare to me, yet here I am...completely in love with my job.

I decided in elementary school that I wanted to be a teacher and never changed my mind about that.  I wanted to be a very different type of teacher though- elementary school art.  This makes me laugh because now that sounds like a nightmare to me.  No offense to anyone that does that, I just know for certain that it is not for me.  I started college still on this track though.

I went to school an elementary ed/art major.  During scheduling I actually had my college advisor tell me that I scored extremely well on my math placement exam and being an art/ed major I wouldn't have to worry about taking any math classes for awhile.  HA!  It took one art class fall semester for me to realize I did not want to do that.  So spring semester I took general ed classes while I figured it out.  Long story, but I ended up at math (obviously).  At my college we had to double major in our subject area, which meant a significant amount of math classes.  Since I was basically starting this from scratch sophomore year, I was behind on both my math and science requirements and was told I was probably going to have to go an extra year.  I was determined to make sure that didn't happen though so it took a lot of work and many special approvals on my course loads, but I did it.

Now on the elementary ed part, I realized pretty quickly that wasn't for me either.  I wasn't sure enough though to completely make the switch to secondary ed.  I actually remember having a friend who was secondary ed tell me many times that I should make the switch and I always told him no way.  Each field work placement though, I kept going older and older.

In the summertime I worked at a summer camp.  After my freshman year I worked with first graders and thought they were just great.  They were adorable and so cute.  After my sophomore year, I got moved to the middle school section.  I was NOT happy at all.  I actually recall wanting to find a new summer job.  Honestly I think I was intimidated because I had no experience with kids of this age, and let's be honest...middle school kids do not have a great reputation.  Well I ended up loving it about a million times more than the second graders.  I seriously fell in love with the age group.

So when I went back to school in the fall, I had a more clear idea of what I wanted to do.  Middle school math for sure.  This was a little tricky with my elementary ed major though, because while the elementary certification used to be K-8, it had recently changed to K-5.  Awesome.  No one was quite sure whether or not I would be able to get certified for middle school with the courses I had taken, but they did let me do the rest of my field work in middle schools.

I did my semester of student teaching in a 7th grade math classroom and had a phenomenal experience. I loved it and was sure that's where I wanted to be.

It turned out though that my elementary certification would not be enough to teach middle school, so I was going to have to take an additional Praxis test to get my middle school certification.  The supervisor at the school I student taught at suggested that instead of getting my middle school certification, I take the next level test and get certified K-12.  Since I had taken plenty of math classes (thanks to my college requirement to double major) I had all the necessary math credits.  I am still very thankful for this suggestion, because I would not have had the idea to do this on my own.  I knew that I never wanted to teach high school, but I did figure that it was better to be over certified.

Luckily for me, the school I student taught at was hiring and thus began my teaching career.


  1. Teaching is a better profession because of you, Sarah. You're absolutely right about this, that "...middle school kids do not have a great reputation" Friends still think I'm crazy to teach middle school, but it's really my favorite age. I, too, was hired by the school I student taught at. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Sarah - Your story is very similar to my teaching story. I love your ISN ideas and try to incorporate them from time to time. I am also teaching middle and high school math (traveling to each building everyday) with classes of 6th, 8th and 9th grade. Best of luck with your school year! Keep up the good work and I love seeing your ideas on here!

  3. What an exciting journey you had to end up where you are now :o)