Friday, February 27, 2015

#youredustory, Week 8

Prompt: "What was the defining moment you decided to be a teacher?"

I'd love to say that there was a moment of clarity when I just knew with absolute certainty that I would be a teacher. However, that isn't the case.

When I graduated from college I knew I wanted to do something to make the world a better place but I wasn't sure how. How exactly do you change the world with a history degree?

My high school guidance counselor was a huge influence on me while in high school and had done the Peace Corps in his younger days. Based on my uncertainty about what to do with my life but armed with a desire to do something to help others out and my knowledge of the Peace Corps I applied to become a volunteer. I spent two years teaching student math, science, English, and geography in northern Namibia while coaching soccer, building a school fence, teaching some computer skills, coaching soccer, and writing an Oshiwambo language manual. It was quite an experience, and despite my minimal training I really enjoyed teaching.

Finding creatures in the sound in NC
Then I got home and wasn't sure what was next. I had enjoyed teaching but wasn't sure if it was what I wanted to do. On a whim I applied to be an environmental educator on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I spent two years living on a barrier island on the coast and wandered around outside with kids and did a lot of hands-on science with a wide variety of age ranges.    

It was while in North Carolina that I slowly started to realize that education was what I wanted to do. However, at what level? I was fascinated by southern African history and debated going and getting a PhD and becoming a professor. However, the cutthroat process of getting tenure and actually being able to teach - not just try to get published - seemed like a less than ideal career for me. The prospect of teaching high schoolers was appealing. And I would actually get to teach! So, five plus years after graduating from college I headed back to school and got a masters degree and a teaching credential.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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