There are some of us that are called, directly, to teach Developmental Education, but I know I was not until later. Ultimately I think I probably became a teacher because I was a good student, and as such it was a natural progression. My Bachelor’s Degree is in History Education and Economics and my ultimate goal right out of school was to become a High School History teacher. I turns out there are very few High School History teaching jobs, and so my first year of school I taught at a parochial school on the edge of an impoverished community on the South Side of Chicago.
I’ll probably never forget the way I got the job – it was August and I was jobless, and the Principal of my first school (who was hired only a few days before I was) called me to see if I wanted to interview for a History and Mathematics position. I hadn’t taught Math, wasn’t good at Math, and had no interest in teaching Math. What I did have an interest in, however, was a job when schools were opening the next week, so I interviewed that day.
During the interview, in a small room overwhelmed by a loud, choking air conditioner struggling to cool the room down, one of the Administrative Assistants came in, whispered something in the Principal’s ear, and the entire timbre of the conversation changed.
“This position is for a Mathematics, Art, and Religion position. Would you be interested in being a Junior High Math, Art, and Religion teacher?”
I thought about this for a few seconds – which dilated in my mind to a few minutes – and decided that if they were willing to give me a paycheck, I’d teach Portuguese and Opera for them. The pay was paltry (I’m pretty sure I made less than minimum wage), the commute was long, and that year I woke up every day at 5 am and got home at 7 pm. But my experience teaching Math when I didn’t like it, when the students didn’t like it, and when I flew by the seat of my pants every day improved me a lot.
TO BE CONTINUED