Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 225- Certifications

Almost five years ago, I started substitute teaching.  I realized very quickly that I had found my calling, and I hoped every morning that I would get the call (literally) to go into one school or another to play.  I was thrilled when teachers left me real plans instead of videos or study hall days and gave me a chance to try my hand at actual instruction.  Early on, I had an opportunity to take a long term sub job working with seventh and eigth graders who were on the lower end of the skills and behavioral spectrum.  They were not so sure about me at first, but I started to build relationships with them after a few days, and they started to let me in.  Then, it was over.  The principal found a certified teacher to take the job, and I was simply done.  When the kids asked why I was moving on and subbing all over instead of staying with them, another teacher told them it was because I was not a "real" teacher.   

I'm not sure why she did that.  I went home feeling a bit heartbroken that day and was only consoled by some Ellen dancing and the reassurance of my parents.  Still, I felt like a fraud.  I had never lied to the kids, and I never told them that I was "real."  I hoped that they hadn't gotten the wrong idea.  Sure, I needed to take classes and pass tests and do all of the things to make me a bonafide hireable educator.  Yet, I couldn't help but feel as if I was already on the road toward being a real teacher.  I suppose it might sort of fall in step with the argument that many couples have that they don't need a piece of paper to be married.  The piece of paper holds all kinds of importance, and you need to have it for a number of different reasons, but you can surely be married in your heart before you ever get have that certificate.   

I was kicked, but I would not allow myself to fall down.  I took that afternoon to feel sorry for myself.  Then, I put on my big girl pants and vowed that I would make it back to school, and I would get that all important piece of paper.  I would have to wait a few years to get my life and my finances together, I would have to attend a number of classes, I would have to complete papers and projects and presentations until I was blue in the face, I would have to go back to school and work my buns off, and I would have to make sacrifices, but I would get that dang piece of paper.

Guess what?  I got it today.  I don't have it in hand just yet, but I received word that both of my certifications are processed and completed with the state of Missouri.  As of today, teaching and I are officially married.  I don't need this piece of paper to prove to myself what I already know in my heart, but I do need it to prove to everyone else that I have put in the time, work, and effort to be a REAL teacher.  I am fully qualified to fill young fifth through twelfth grade minds with the power of words.  I have the power of a certain teacher's words to thank for giving me the final kick in the butt that I needed to strengthen my will and resolve to get this done.  More than that, I am thankful for the kind words from the many teachers who have deeply touched and inspired me over all these years.  I also have myself to thank, someone I often neglect to recognize, but it feels wonderful to know that all of the work that I put in is finally paying off.  My reward is the 150 lumps of angsty adolescent clay that will be waiting for me on August 11.

It feels great to be able to talk about what I do without having to qualify anything.  I am not just a subsitute teacher or a student teacher.  I am not a guest in someone else's classroom.  I'm it.

Thank you, certifications, you made my day.

1 comments:

Ashley and Nate said...

Ewww... to that person who said you weren't a "real teacher". That's not true. So many people are great teachers, and they don't have a piece of paper to prove it. Congratulations on getting it anyway!! :)

Go mold those adolescent pieces of clay! Enjoy sharing knowledge... I'll bet you learn so much along the way.