The biggest question I get lately is… WHY? or HOW? in reference to going back to school.
I understand the conundrum, I already hold a BS in Special Education with an emphasis in Mentally Impaired. I hold a MEd with an emphasis in Behavioral Disorders. I am certified to teach special education K-12 and regular education Pre-K-3rd grade. I have received training and continued education in various areas from ADD/ADHD, ESL, Vision Impaired, Orton-Gillingham etc…
Why in the world would I want to go back to school?
Well, for one I am a life long learner. I love to learn and keep up to date with latest in best practices in education.
I am also a firm believer that as educators we need to stretch ourselves and re-invent ourselves periodically. In the work force, most people move from company to company or climb a corporate ladder. In the professional world outside of education you are given bonuses, incentives, and promotions. The lack of these are a contribution to the reasons we lose good teachers. I am not going to attempt to say I have a solution for this.
I can hear some of you non-teachers right now…you are either on the side of… "Teachers are amazing and I could never do their job." OR You are on the side of… "Why do you gripe you get the summers off?" (By the way the latter is a myth…we are not contracted to work summers, therefore we are not paid for our summers, but yet most of us do some sort of work during the summers in preparation for the following school year.)
It doesn't matter what side you are on. The truth is we are professionals, who went to college, who took one or more certification exams, who have to keep attending continuing education and continue to re-certify every few years, to maintain a job whose pay has not kept up with inflation or the economy. I won't get into the fact that more is thrown on our plates, and that my counterparts in public schools have the added pressure of test performance for their students.
So, I digress to why I am back in school. As teachers we need to continuously keep ourselves fresh or we will become the stereotype of what people gripe about. We need and should pursue teaching other grades and not become conformed to just one grade. We have to take the risk and try something new. We have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. There is great reward in learning YOU CAN!
A few years ago I was asked to switch to 1st grade. My co-teacher asked me why I wanted to do this? I had been in pre-k for 3 years and it was a solid team. I looked at her and said, "Because I can." I have taught middle school, high school, pre-k, and now 1st. I will keep moving. It is good to see and learn what you are capable of. We aren't going to be given promotions or bonuses, we need to move ourselves around. It is up to us to dictate how we grow ourselves in our profession and personally.
What can you do to stretch yourself? There are a lot of Professional Developments around us and opportunities to attend conferences. Take them when you can. If your school or district has money ask to go. Learn something new that will make you want to freshen up your classroom and rejuvenate your plan book. GO back to school and certify in a new area.
Back to answering the question, WHY?
Because I can.
Because I want to learn more, be better, share what I learn with my colleagues, and take my students to a new level.
With some patience, sacrifice and support from my family. My children are learning you're never too old to go learn something new. It's kind of fun to be in post graduate classes while my daughter is a college student and my son is finishing up middle school. If anything they have learned, if mom can go to college, work and keep us alive then we can do it too.
NOW, how will you stretch yourself in the coming school year?
Wife, Mom, Educator and Lifelong Learner