With all the holiday hubbub and the recent ice storm which has had me up at 5:30 a.m. making school closing calls for the last several days, I’ve been less-than-inspired on the blogging front. Then, Harriet the Spy over at Spynotes offered up this 5 questions meme.
1. Your house is on fire. All the people and pets are already out and safe. You can take only one thing with you. What will it be and why?
I’m going to cheat a bit and count “my photo albums” as one thing. After all they are a collective thing. For years now, I’ve created scrapbooks which represent not only my children’s personal histories but also literally hours of my time. While I back up my photos off site now, I didn’t have that option in the early days of parenthood.
While personal photographs likely don’t rise to the level of a unique answer to this question, I’ll go ahead and admit that if I had two things to take, I’d also take the silver flatware I inherited from my great-aunt. Yes, it’s merely a thing, and not so clearly relevant like the photographic evidence of my kids’ childhoods, but it’s a definitive link to a woman who epitomized devotion to her family, gracious living, and professional achievement in an age where many women had no role outside the home–all characteristics I hope to emulate. Each time I unwrap the shiny forks, knives, and spoons from their cases, I’m reminded of cozy evenings spent listening to Ethel’s stories while we polished those same pieces. Yes, she even made silver polishing seem like a treat!
2. A benefactor has agreed to fund you for a year. There are no strings attached – you can do whatever you’d like for 12 months, practical or frivolous, and have it all paid for by this person. What will you do?
I would absolutely want to take a year off and travel with my family around the world. I’d give myself a C on travel experience, and I’d like to show my kids both places I’ve been and enjoyed, like Europe, and also discover new places with them, especially Asia and Africa. Of course, I’d want this Great Expectations-esque benefactor to pay all of the expenses to maintain our home while we’re gone and to ensure that we’d be able to step right back into school and work without any difficulties when we returned. That’s not too much to ask, right?
3. Tell me about your favorite place (you can interpret this as narrowly or broadly as you like — a cozy chair, an interesting continent). Why is it your favorite? When did you first go there? When did you last go there? What is your favorite memory there? Is there someone you would especially like to take there?
My favorite places all involve the same thing–a true sense of relaxation. And whether it’s the beach, or a cabin in the woods, or a fancy European hotel, the person I want there with me is Adventure Guy. I have special memories of each of theses places, but contentment is the overwhelming feeling I get each time I think of them. I realize that I need more of that in my life, and it’s nice to realize that it doesn’t always take going far away to achieve it.
4. Of all the things that you have made or done in your life so far, what are you most proud of? Why does the thing you picked mean the most to you?
I’m most proud of my relationship with Adventure Guy. Of course, I’m also proud of the children we’ve created together and our work in parenting them, but, really, the basis of all that is our own marriage. I met Adventure Guy when I was 19. That seems impossibly young now to have been so certain that I’d found the man, albeit the 21-year-old one, that I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. I’m proud of my then self for recognizing that and for being willing to jump into marriage at 22, even though it meant postponing some of my own professional goals for a while. Looking back, I don’t think we would have married if I’d insisted on waiting until I’d finished a master’s degree first. And, I managed to get that degree and a career that’s important to me in the long run anyway an eventuality that was hard to picture when I moved to a very small town where I was unable to use my education right after we got married.
5. What made you decide on a career in education? Did you have a favorite teacher(s) who inspired you? What about them made them special?
I was never. going. into. education. See how well that all worked for me? And, yes, I did have great role models. My great-aunts, my grandmother, my mother–all excelled at teaching and touched lives in the process. My world history teacher and my senior English teacher in high school helped me see the heights to which great teachers could inspire students. And, still, I was not going to teach. After all, I had potential. I could be anything I wanted to be, which at times in my life included a doctor, a lawyer, and, briefly, a business woman.
It wasn’t until my junior year of college that, after several political science classes, I realized I didn’t get nearly as jazzed at learning case law as I did with learning history. The thought of spending three more years after graduation in law school didn’t hold much allure, especially since by that time I envisioned marrying Adventure Guy when I finished my undergrad degree. I knew enough even then to know that being an associate in a law firm and having kids didn’t mix well, and I wanted to be a young mother.
With all those thoughts swirling around my head, I humbly marched myself over to the education department and changed my major. A career where I could spend lots of time with my subject matter and also have more time with my theoretical family suddenly seemed much more attractive.
It wasn’t until I completed my internship that I also realized how much I enjoyed the kids, the moments when something I’d taught clicked, the fulfillment that comes from knowing that my work made a difference. And, even better, I was damn good at it.
I know, now I’ve revealed my egotistical side, but, that part? It’s true. I loved teaching, and teaching loved me. I did it well for eight years, and then I got tired of seeing other people who didn’t do it so well. I moved first into an instructional coaching position and then into school administration to make a difference for more students. Now, I have the opportunity to impact 10,000 of them on a daily basis. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously. Just as seriously as the fact that I know deep down in my heart that I’d be just as happy with my own classroom of students again. There are still days I learn about a new technique or a new resource, and I’m just dying to try it out for myself. I doubt that will ever go away, and I need to find more opportunities to carry out those wishes. Eventually, my goal is to work at the university level teaching classes for preservice teachers. There’s so much we don’t adequately prepare them for in the classroom.
Do I regret not going into medicine or law? No. The only thing that I regret is that I had to leave the classroom before my career choices got as much respect from others as those two fields do.
Now that I’ve poured out some of my deepest secrets right here in Suburbia, I hope a few others will take up the question challenge. I’d love to send you your very own list! Leave me a comment if you’d like to play along.