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"Are You Still A Teacher?" My First Year Out of the Classroom
"Are You Still A Teacher?"
“Mrs. B., why are you not a teacher anymore?”
This is the question that I was asked most often this year. This school year, after seventeen years in the classroom, I took the leap to become a K-2 Reading Intervention Teacher. My years as a classroom teacher were spent in first and second grade, the “hot bed” of literacy development. I loved it! There is nothing better in this world than a child’s face when the letters on the page start to have meaning for them. All of a sudden they exclaim “I can read this!” And being a part of that joy was contagious.
However, I felt myself getting restless. I knew that it was possible that I might be “phoning it in” in a few years. I did not want to be that kind of educator. I needed a new challenge. The school I teach in is largely bilingual and very multicultural. For years, I watched some children learn to read with what seemed like very little effort on my part. Others seemed to struggle no matter how much support they received. I wanted to do more for those children.
A position opened in my building for an intervention teacher and I jumped at the chance. I had to dig out a resume (dusty though it was) and actually put on an “interview suit.” I was frightened at leaving the comfort zone of the classroom. But something told me this was the right choice!
I was lucky enough to be offered the position.Now it was time to clean out almost 20 years of classroom, ”stuff” shall we say! Oh, the memories of my baby teacher years. It was an emotional task during which I laughed and cried.
September rolled around and I felt unmoored. No classroom to go to and no new crop of kids yet. I attended meetings that seemed to last endlessly.I dealt with more adults then children which presented its own set of new rules. I wondered if this was the right decision. I felt like a runner at the starting gate with nowhere to go.
Finally, I was able to start with my new program. My groups were in place, and I was ready! My first lesson was that I did not need to project my voice at a table with three children! My colleagues gently (but quickly) set me straight on that one!
This year has brought the joys and frustrations of a new way of teaching. I am getting down in the trenches and feeling like I am truly making a difference with these struggling readers. But this new job also offered another experience that I did not expect. I have worked with some of my colleagues for years, but I never worked WITH them. I have seen these men and women in action now. And it is a joy and an inspiration to see so many teaching styles and ideas. I knew they were good, but I am amazed by them everyday!
The children ask me still: “Did you stop being a teacher?”
I reply, “I am and always will be a teacher.” And I am proud.