Wednesday, July 17, 2013
When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, the only thing I did know, was that I didn’t want to be a teacher. In fact, the thought had never really sounded appealing to me. As I went through school I learned more about things I knew were not for me. I took the LSATs as a personal form of torture before deciding that despite good scores, Law School was not for me either. So at the end of the road, graduation looming and without the top level grade point average to secure a place in a Grad program that I would have liked, I graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Government. I was officially qualified to argue my way out of a paper bag, and wait tables.
After finishing up another summer in the restaurant business (almost everyone who grows up on the south Jersey shore worked in a restaurant at some point) I joined the many post college graduates without a clue in the public sector business world. For a few weeks I studied, passed test, and became a liscensed financial advisor. I do not know how I found myself there, needless to say, I was thrust into a world about which I knew nothing. My days were long, I would “work” from 9am-8pm Monday – Thursday, with slightly shorter days on Friday and a few hours every Saturday. I quotated work for many reasons. Much of this time was spent with pep talks, “random” business lunch winners and learning about products I would never sell. My job was to sell people on the value of my advice, and although I was not terrible at it by any means, my heart was never in it. One day, while working out a plan for a person who would have been my wealthiest client to date, and also my biggest pay check in months, I found myself being totally disenchanted with the business forever. Despite actually creating a plan for this family that would have genuinely been great for them, I was repeatedly pushed off and rescheduled. One day, when the clients were supposed to have been unavailable do to a work emergency, I saw them out having dinner at a restaurant. I realized then, that I didn’t have the heart for the business world. I was so disgusted by the blatant disregaurd for my time, and the clear distrust for someone whom they paid for advice, that from that moment on, my work slid completely down hill. With very little money, a newly financed engagment ring, and a sickened feeling in my stomach, I quit my job in what was one of the most liberating decisions of my life.
I humbly went back to waiting tables. It took a lot to swallow my pride as a well educated college graduate to go back to a job I never wanted and accept that it was the only way to get by. A few months later my fiance’ suggested I try subbing. She knew I loved kids and suggested I try it out to see if teaching might be for me. That summer, through a series of phone calls and help from my mom (a career teacher), I was fortunate to land a permanent substitute position in the school where I grew up.
I reference this point in my life for a few reasons. First, I have strong feelings about teacher preparation which I will ultimately share in later posts. The second, is that I know what its like to work in the private sector for a business. I worked long hours, recieved very little reward either financially or otherwise, and often felt like a fish out of water. I am not saying that the people I worked with weren’t good people, or that their jobs are not valuable. I know that when I leave my school now, my mind doesn’t usually leave with me. I am constantly thinking of new ideas to share with my coworkers or my students. I am always at “work” because I never stop thinking about how I can benefit my classroom, but most days I would say that I do not feel like I am working. I do leave however, with a renewed sense that what I am doing is what I was made for, and how I could be happy working anywhere other than in a school is incomprehensible.
Needless to say, the first day I walked into the building as a permanent sub, I was completely hooked and it changed my life (and the life of my family) forever.