Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My life as an English teacher- how I got here

Today, as my sophomore students were busy in the classroom, cutting out flashcards for their new vocabulary words, I took a step back. I stopped and I listened. I heard happy voices talking about all sorts of things, the cut cut cut of the cardstock, the scissors moving up and down, kids moving about the room. I took a moment and just looked around, took it all in. For some reason this moment in my class was perfection to me. As the kids worked, I thought about my profession. I thought about being in high school myself, and I thought about how interesting it was that I became a teacher.

from my desk

Growing up, I was constantly in and out of my mother's classroom. She taught at a small school in the incredibly tight-knit artist community of Roosevelt, NJ. The school had one class per grade- K-8. There were probably 10-15 children per class, and some of my happiest memories are spending time in that school. Even though I enjoyed my time there so much, I never thought to myself that I would one day be a teacher myself. My Mom would repeatedly talk about how much she enjoyed her work, but would often tell my sister and I never to become teachers ourselves, as the pay was too low for the job at hand.

I made it through my junior high and high schools day successfully. I was the kind of person who really enjoyed my high school years- I was very social and had a great time. I didn't enjoy class though, and it was often a struggle for my parents to get me to do work- I was incredibly bored! If someone would have told me that I would be a teacher one day, I would have laughed. Even in college I didn't consider this idea. My freshman year at NAU I decided I wanted to be a number of things, and my major switched a couple of times. I started with Hotel and Restaurant Management. I thought this idea was fabulous, because what could be better than working at a tropical resort? That major and idea quickly failed when I had to take a course in hotel management, and was forced to clean the rooms and bathrooms of the campus's resident hotel. I walked out that day, disgusted. Because I've always had a love for computers and technology, the next logical major was computer programming. I took a few classes, predominately full of nerdy boys, and decided I was too personable for that profession. Looking back, I think I would have definitely been happy had I stuck to that. But alas, it wasn't for me. Next I dabbled in both psychology and economics before I finally went back to my true love, English. In high school, English was the only core subject I truly enjoyed and I'd always been a complete bookworm. Although English was my first choice of majors, I had originally shied away from choosing this path due to both my adviser and peers telling me this pick was a quick road to unemployment following graduation. I decided to give it a go anyway, and one semester in I couldn't get enough. I reveled in my surroundings- other literary nerds who found great pleasure in writing poetry, reading old books, and sitting around discussing contemporary fiction. It was a welcome break from the everyday life of a sorority girl, as cliche and silly as that may sound. I was hooked.

As the next three years went by, I fell deeper and deeper in love with all things English Literature. I took classes in everything from Rhetoric in Media to African American Literature. I learned so much. As my May 2004 graduation date loomed nearer, I began to weigh my options. I had decided my junior year that I wanted to become a lawyer, so my emphasis was in pre-law, and the LSATs were coming up. I had already decided though, that law wasn't a path I was ready to go down, so I was at a dead end of sorts. I knew that I loved writing, but I wasn't sure where exactly to get started in that field. I loved communication, but again, I wasn't sure what I could do with my Bachelor's of Arts in English.

It turned out that I decided to take some time and continue working for the company I had worked for for so long, and interviewed for a management position at the Aveda store in Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. I got the job, and two weeks after graduation my best friends Autumn and Shirley moved down with me to Old Town Scottsdale, I began working. I liked my job. I had worked for Aveda for years and years prior to this, and I enjoyed the atmosphere and working in the field of beauty. I even toyed with the idea of making this my career. But no matter how much I enjoyed it, it just wasn't fulfilling a part of me, an intellectual part that felt silenced while working in the mall.

Around October I started to feel like maybe I wanted to become a high school teacher. I wasn't exactly sure where this thought came from- I didn't know any high school teachers my age, and I wasn't exactly sure what the road to becoming a teacher even entailed. Would I have to repeat another four years of undergraduate work to obtain an additional four year degree? While all this was going on, my feeling of idleness and my unhappiness with the retail world continued to grow. I applied for a large "grown-up" position at a large financial firm in Scottsdale to do website editing, and got the job.

Even though I was set to begin working in three weeks, I started looking into teaching and noticed that my alma mater, NAU, offered an accelerated graduate program in Phoenix where I could receive my Master's in Education while at the same time obtaining my teaching certification. Amazing. Unfortunately the next round of classes began shortly, so even though I sent in my application, I gave up hope I could begin in January. Surprisingly, a little less than three weeks later I received a call from graduate admissions informing me that I had, indeed, been accepted into the program, and my start date was the following Monday...the same day I was set to begin at the financial company. I immediately called them and informed them that I wasn't able to come into work on Monday, and set my heart on achieving this suddenly all-important goal. At the same time, I was so scared. I had just turned down an incredibly well-paying job to make a career out of something my mom had warned me about. Was I making a mistake?

Fear aside, I'll never forget when I walked into my very first graduate course. There was a woman up front- totally hip with her adorable haircut and fun outfit...and she was so positive and inspiring. From day one, this professor was a huge part of the reason I stuck with the program, and she really helped to mold me into the teacher I am now. With her help, graduate school flew by- it was an intense program, with classes lasting multiple hours many times per week. I even had to move back to Flagstaff for the summer to take a few courses. But surprisingly, I enjoyed it. I liked the idea that I would one day soon be up in front of my own class, sharing my thoughts about my favorite subject. I enjoyed having a light at the end of the tunnel- a tangible goal that got closer each day. I loved all of the classes we took on young adult fiction, lesson planning, technology in the classroom, you name it. The year continued on and before I knew it, it was time to student teach. By this point I had completed all of my graduate courses, besides my student teaching semester. Assuming that I made it through the next 16 weeks successfully, I would officially have a M.Ed. and a teaching certificate for the state of Arizona.

I had moved to Prescott from Scottsdale in the fall, during my previous semester. I had done my practicum (observation) unit at Prescott High, and decided to do my student teaching there as well. I was placed in the department head's classroom, and although I had met her before, I was still nervous about the entire thing. I had gone out on a limb moving up north during this time. There was only one high school in Prescott, and typically the school you student teach at is most apt to offer you a position following this time period. It was a gamble to be in a town with one possible job choice. What if I didn't like it? And more importantly, what if they didn't like me?

The first day of school I arrived in my mentor teacher's room. I was visibly shaking. Her first hour was seniors, and I was only 22- just four years older than them. I was petrified. All those eyes, staring at me. I was beet red from the moment I walked in the door- how on earth was I going to make these students, these people who felt like my peers, listen and respect me? What had I gotten myself into? In the confines of my graduate school courses, teaching didn't seem so scary. You present a lesson, you explain it, you answer questions. Done. No one ever mentioned the girl in the front of the room looking you up and down, or the boy in the back glaring at you, as if he was thinking, "who is this stranger?" I didn't have much time to ponder that though, because she put a vocabulary book in a my hand and said "they're all yours." I went blank for a minute, and I remember looking up and out at those 35 faces, panicked. Then my auto-pilot set in and I was somewhat okay. Now if you know anything about student teaching, you know that it's a process. You're supposed to observe for the first few weeks, ease into teaching maybe one class a day, and slowly add more. Not my experience. I was literally thrown into teaching on day one, and looking back, I am so thankful for this. Because it was so shocking, I had to immediately get over any and all fear I had. And trust me, I did. I was pushed head first intothe deep end...off the high dive. But by the end of the first week, I was feeling completely comfortable with the kids and loving it.

The semester went by quickly, and by the end of the 16 weeks I was actually sad to go. On my last day, the principal called me into her office. She told me that she was impressed with my progress, and offered me a teaching position for the next year. It's safe to say I was ecstatic. I had fallen in love with the school, and I couldn't imagine working anywhere else. I also enjoyed the idea that Hank had gone there years before, and his parents too. I had found my place.

I was on cloud nine. I had never liked to work but I had actually found a job that I didn't dread going to each day. Aveda was fun, but it was retail, and the negatives far outweighed the positives for me. Towards the end of May, it was my time to graduate. I had surprised myself- I was 22 and graduating with my Master's degree. How did that happen? Being someone who, at the time, would often start projects and leave them unfinished, I felt so accomplished and grown up. It was a beautiful thing to feel so proud of something I had achieved. And it was even sweeter knowing that I had a job waiting for me.



Looking back on the road that brought me to my current place in life- more than a few years of teaching under my belt, happy in my job and school- I never would have guessed this for myself. I wake up most mornings excited to get there, happy to see the kids, looking forward to sharing something with them. Some days are harder than others, but like I said, most days are great. I never would have guessed that my procrastinating high school self would ever end up on the other side of the podium. But here I am. In my opinion, teaching is the most important job in the world. Every year, I get over 150 new students. When you think about the simple magnitude of the possibilities involved in that, it's dizzying. I have the opportunity to shape these little minds into something more than they walked in with. I am able to share stories and poetry, music and novels, anything and everything full of art and language and knowledge. I get to make non-readers into book lovers. I am an advice-giver, role model, and a smile. My mood directly affects my classroom, and in turn affects my students. Each day I get up in front of my kids I have a chance to positively impact each and every one of those children.

At times teaching can be difficult. I find most "out of class" tasks to be the most tedious and stressful. The paperwork, the meetings, the goals, the mandatory lesson plans...all of these things are my least favorite. My most favorite are the kids. I can't go an entire hour without laughing, and to be able to describe my day in such a way is awesome.

If you've ever thought about being a teacher, let me tell you- it's amazing. Not only do you get to enjoy a wonderful schedule, you also get to enjoy a career that is different each and every day. You get to choose an area that you love- for me, English- and share every little last bit of that with young people. What could be better?

I wrote this so I could always remember how I got to where I am today- and I thought I would share this post in case any of you were interested in the path I took to get here! I think it also serves as a reminder that if you want something, go get it! I look back at this time and I remember feeling so scared. What if I was making the wrong career choice? What if I hated it? I took the plunge though, and I can't tell you how right this all feels. I hope that if you're on the fence about something in your life, you find the strength to just go for it. Whether it be a career, a move, a choice, anything...summon up that strong part of you that is always there waiting, and allow yourself to take a chance. Although teaching isn't a dangerous profession, I was incredibly scared about taking those first steps. But I did, and I couldn't be happier. It's also interesting to note that my younger sister became a teacher as well, so we both get to share in the awesome-ness that is teaching. I love that we are able to have this experience together- and it's neat that teaching has become a bit of a family affair for us!

Someday soon I will talk more about my experiences in the classroom and what an average day is like, and some of the daily trials and triumphs I go through, as they are definitely noteworthy. So stayed tuned for that.

And now I'm curious- are any of you teachers or aspiring teachers? Did you always know you wanted to be one? I'd love to hear about your experience, so please feel free to share in the comments!

And as always, thank you so much for reading! I love you guys. :)

91 comments:

  1. Hi, I found your blog tonight from Create Loves! You are too cute! I am studying to be an art teacher right now. My first major was to be an English teacher but I realized that was not meant for me and that art was my calling. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher no matter what.
    I really like your tattoos. I am planning on getting a couple more for myself. How did the school feel about them? Do all your clothes have to cover them up? I really want something on my arm but am hesitating because of my career choice.

    Sorry, this is so freakin long! Have a wonderful night!

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  2. Hi! I read your blog every single day. You inspire me in so many ways. I am currently in school majoring in elementary education. Here lately, many people (some even being teachers) have tried to talk me out of my chosen major. It's so funny to me that you posted this tonight because just today someone told me about their wife being a teacher and how I should stop right now. I was beginning to feel really confused about it and then I came to your blog and saw what you wrote. It was the only sign I needed. So basically, thank you so much for posting that. You have no idea how much you inspired me to keep going no matter what people say. Thank you =) And for the record, I'm really considering being an English Teacher now.

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  3. I am going to be an English teacher too, but I am on a break this semester. I loved reading your process!

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  4. Both Brian and I think a lot about becoming High School teachers. I am fairly certain I will go into teaching for some amount of time, but at this point I haven't decided if it will be as a High School teacher or college professor! :)

    <3

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  5. Hi Danielle!
    I must confess, I have a ritual of reading your blog every night before I go to bed. I am 21 going on 22 and have struggled with my choice of a career even back in middle school when we were asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    Every semester I change my major and have even taken a year off in hopes of finding my calling and unfortunately, it didn't help in making a decision. This semester I decided to change my major back to general studies and decided to take an introductory course in education, for I have toyed with the thought of becoming a high school English teacher for many years. Every week I look forward to this class the most! I love learning how teachers can make such an impact in a student's life and I love observing how passionate they are about their work regardless of their low pay.
    But every week after I leave my class I struggle with wondering if it is what I am meant to do or if I would even excel in it regardless of how much I loved English in high school and I just wanted to let you know that as I began reading your post tonight I had to fight back tears and halfway through I couldn't hold them back anymore and the tears were just free-falling down my face because you were exactly where I am now...struggling with the uncertainty about what to do and I think I will definitely be taking the plunge into teaching, as scary as this seems, and hopefully one day I can be just as happy as you are in your job and I really just wanted to say thank you for posting this because you wrote it at a time when I really needed it! :)
    P.S. Sorry for the extremely long comment and run-on sentences, I hope this all makes sense!)

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  6. This blog entry was EXACTLY what I needed to read tonight. I just graduated with a (not very useful) degree in December, and thought that I just wanted to get a job. I have felt just this past week that maybe I should just go for it and get certified to teach (something I have really always wanted to do!) Thank you so, so much for sharing this journey with us. I think I am ready to go for it, just like you said! Thanks for the great blog!

    -Jess

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  7. You have no idea how this post has helped me :). I have a culinary degree, a husband, and a 4 month old. Cooking seemed so fun and exciting, which it is, but the hours and stress do not mesh well with me and my family. I started my college career in early childhood education hut got bored and went to culinary school. Now after it's all over and my little baby was made, I know I have to do
    something different. I've always wanted to teach and
    my favorite subject was always English, specifically English Lit. Just last night, I finally decided that I would go back to school and finish my English degree and get my teaching certificate. :) Your post came at the perfect time for me. I was so nervous and scared about going back to school but you have completely motivated and inspired me to continue and go all-in! :) Thank you!

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  8. thank you so much for posting this, it is really nice to hear Im not the only one who wasnt sure which way to go at the start lol, Im now heading back to finish my teaching degree after starting out in law, then nursing, psychology, social work. English was my favourite class at school too, I still have no idea what sort of teacher i want to be :o) thank you again for sharing!

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  9. I am considering being a history teacher. I have been a psychology major for quite some time now but have always had a love of history. I find it really neat to hear your POV. I had a teacher in 8th grade who was probably in his twenties as well. He changed my life! He was my history teacher, and he made history so much fun! My creative writing teacher in 8th grade was cool too. She looked like to teacher from the Magic School Bus (at least the hair). I am not even sure why I wanted to do psychology. So ever since 8th grade I wanted to get someone as excited about history, or something, as Mr. D did with me and history. I will probably make a post about this now that I am nostalgic. I think the only thing I am scared of is the practicality of teaching. I don't even know of there is a demand for history teachers. Especially now that math and science are so important to this country. Are you ever concerned that there will be less of a demand for higher level english teachers?

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  10. I had you for both a student teacher and a teacher at PHS. I absolutely loved being a part of your class. You always made the classroom into a fun and exciting environment. You are a wonderful at what you do.

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  11. This makes me feel a lot better about things, even though I am on a different path. (I'm a psychology major looking to go into counseling). It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with psychology because I could take it in so many directions. Here's to hoping I made the right choice! (and knowing that even if I didn't, it will be okay.)

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  12. I just adore all of your blog posts! This is such an encouraging post for me to read because I am considering becoming a teacher. Right now, I'm almost finished with my undergraduate degree in theatre arts. I have decided to go on to graduate school, but I haven't made any definite plans yet. I'm leaning towards teaching, but I haven't decided if I want to teach at the high school level or continue in school to teach at the college level. I greatly enjoyed hearing about how you made your career happen. I think it's wonderful that you followed your gut and it led you into a career that satisfies your intellectual needs. I have worked many retail jobs in the past, and I know I could never work in retail for the rest of my life and be happy with my career. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!!

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  13. Hello there :) I just recently started reading your blog, and I love it!
    Here is my little story about wanting to be a teacher:
    When I was in high school my favorite subject was art. I loved everything about it. When it came time to choose a major for college I thought Art Ed. sounded like the right path for me. I have always loved kids and when I was little always loved playing school. The program at my school is not very big. There is one main professor that holds the program together with one other prof. who helps teach a few classes. With my luck, the year I started was the year they hired a new Art Ed. teacher. From other students who were older, I heard that the teacher who was there before was awesome, but for some reason she had to leave. I stuck through Art Ed. until second semester junior year and I switched my major to a BA in art with a focus in Printmaking, then I switched to ceramics, and now it's back to printmaking. I decided to switch because the new teacher was horrible! She was a nice lady, meant well, but was very very strange and out there and had a very different view on Art education and what it meant to be a teacher (not in a good way). All of the students in the class hated her and complained about her all the time. She would never listen to any of our suggestions and she did not seem happy to be teaching. I'd say 80% of us decided to switch majors. This really devastated me, I actually ended up breaking down and crying to my advisor. Once I switched, the teacher actually ended up being let go.
    Right now I am not that happy with being a BA in art. I don't want to blame anyone, but I honestly believe that the teacher ruined it for me. I am only 22 and I know I have time to go back and get my masters in it, but I feel like I have lost hope and interest because of this teacher!

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  14. Great post Danielle and well done.
    I just really want to encourage you in what you are doing. It's amazing that you love what you do so much and find so much joy from it for yourself. Even more than that though is that you are having huge impact on other people's lives in perhaps the most impressionable time in their lives. Teachers are so often underrated and unappreciated, working in an often thankless job, but they have such a significant impact on so many individuals. I commend you xx

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  15. in year twelve {in australia thats our final year}. the debate began on what i wanted to do.

    i have always loved children but wasnt sure if that was what i wanted for good.

    i applied for the bachelor of education {early childhood education} but upon seeing my UAI {which is what gets you into uni} and it being too low for education. i was disappointed.

    i applied for TAFE doing the diploma of children's services. and well. i got in.

    then i was debating between the napoleon perdis make up diploma and the children's services one i got into. i figured i was only 18 and if i didnt like it. i could just start again.

    i started the diploma and loved every minute. every. minute.

    the diploma qualifies me to be a room leader/teacher in a birth - five year old setting in australia.

    then i thought. maybe i could try to get into the bachelor again.

    and i did. the same uni i go to is the one where the wiggles attended. it is the best of the best for early education.

    oh and early education is from birth to eight years old. which is year two in primary school over here.

    im in my final year this year. and cannot wait to be finally qualified. might have taken 5 years to do it {2 yrs for the diploma + 3 yrs for the bachelor} but i have loved every minute of it!

    {sorry this is so long..}

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  16. I have read your blog for awhile now, and it is definitely one of my favourites, I always save yours for last when going through my google reader.
    I just recently (this December) graduated with an ed degree, and am currently struggling with what to do next. There are little to no jobs in the area I live, and and currently unemployed. I am considering returning to school in September for photography, something I always wanted to do, but didn't because it wasn't "practical", and return to teaching afterwards. Does this seem like a silly idea?

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  17. Hi Danielle.
    Thanks for sharing, i was quite interested in how you came into teaching, was going to ask if you could post the story =]. I am currently studying English Literature and History and will be finished in a year. I did'nt know where that degree would take me and was constantly questioned as to why i would want to study it. But really the question should be why WOULD'NT you want to study it! I am absolutely in love with the papers i'm taking, and feel so blessed to be gaining the knowledge i'm getting. Thats what makes me feel that teachihg would be ideal, i feel that now i have this knowledge i really want to share it. I can imagine it is quite daunting and difficult to get into with more and more people wanting to teach, but that should not be an excuse to take it up. Im going to America next year to take some time off and open my mind a little more to the world and then when i get back it will be decision time. It has deffinetly being enlightening reading this post and i thank you so much!
    xx

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  18. Hi! I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I love it! You seem so happy and upbeat. :) This post was exactly was I needed tonight. I'm a senior in high school and up until a couple months ago, I was planning on going to college and getting a degree in sociology. That is, until the beginning of the school year, when I started working with elementary school students 3 days a week. I so look forward to those days now, and I'm starting to seriously look at getting a degree in education. I feel like this blog was fate (cheesy I know) because 10 minutes before I read it I was talking on the phone to my friend, letting her know about my possible change of plans. Your blog has really confirmed (to me, at least) that it's okay to consider other choices before making a decision. I always thought about teaching but never really considered it until this year. I just wanted to tell you thank you for posting this. It made me feel sooo much better about my possibilities. :) (Oh, and I lovelovelove the way you dress! I wish I creativity to think up some of your cute outfits!)

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  19. I have an MA in English Lit (from ASU) that I never ever use. But I'm so glad that I did those 2 years. I loved grad school ...

    Also, I have a friend who is a teacher (in Scottsdale), and she looks so young she HAS to wear her hair up every day so she looks more teacher-ish :)

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  20. I am a teacher and have been for almost 9 years.
    Degree: Elementary Education, English As A Second Language, Special Education, MA in TESOL

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  21. I loved reading this! Thanks so much for sharing! Like you, I didn't plan on becoming a teacher. I majored in English & thought I would go to grad school after getting my B.A. I just didn't have the money when I graduated, though. My friend is a business manager at a local school district & told me they really needed subs. So I thought I'd give it a try, but I was so afraid they'd send me to the high school. The very first day they called me to sub, it was for 12th graders. I was SO nervous because I wasn't much older than them; I was 22 but looked under 18. They actually weren't sure if I was a new student or their sub! However, I really loved it & ended up getting a few long-term subbing positions. I even had a teaching job there for about 2 years, but thanks to all the budget problems I am back to being a substitute teacher.

    I really miss having my own classroom, but I know that one day I'll get to teach again. I have 2 more semesters to go in this teaching credential program (California has SO many requirements, it's frustrating) & then a semester of student teaching.

    I want to note that while I absolutely love working with high schoolers, it's not something I can see myself doing forever. I ultimately want to end up teaching at a college, which means I'll never be done going to school.

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  22. Hi Danielle,
    Well as you know I am also a teacher. I went to college thinking I wanted to do broadcast journalism. I went to Long Beach State (so I always swoon over your Belmont Shore photos, my old stomping ground) I even had an internship at ABC, woke up at 3 am to be there for the 5 am news. I was knee deep in it. When my Senior year in college arrived and I realized I didn't want to take the chance and live in Podunk, City USA doing the news about cows and such :)So I did what I also loved, I went into the credential program. My mom has been a kinder teacher for 13 years and I always knew I could be a great teacher. So a year later I graduated with my elem. ed. credential. I have now taught for 8 years in 5th, 4th, 1st, 7-8th, K and back again. Now I live and work in Juneau, AK and LOVE teaching here. You're right it is hard work, there are politics involved, sometimes you do have to play the game. But I just realized unless you really love kids and love your job you wouldn't do all that extra crap that most wouldn't be able to handle. Teachers are one of a kind for sure. Thanks for listening.
    xo

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  23. First.. sorry for my english..
    But I have to say that I love teacher that love what they are doing. I had many teacher that don't care.. and then I don't get inspired to learn, even if I wanted it from the begining, whan I started a class.
    I hope you understand what I mean, but english is not my first language, but I want to learn and it's very nice to read your blog :)

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  24. Hi, I found your blog via A Beautiful Mess and have been reading for a bit. I love that you are so enthusiastic about your job! I decided in kindergarten that I wanted to be a teacher. I went for elem ed, but couldn't get a job (way too many elem teachers in the area), and switched to middle school math. I have been teaching 7th grade math for 5 years and I love the kids. I never loved math in school, was more into english and did get my masters in library science. I worked in an elem library but realized I missed middle school kids. So, although I am technically doing what I wanted to do when I was little, it has evolved. It's great that by your example you are encouraging others and your students to follow what they are passionate about :)

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  25. That post came in the right moment:

    i will finally and after some years of doing stuff i didnt really wanted to (secretary and kindergarten teacher) start studying in october, BA of Ed in English (which for me is not my native language) and history! I´m somehow proud that i finally made this decision, cause i´m already 27, tourning 28 in october, and have a 22 month old daughter... this won´t be easy for sure, but i think i have never been looking forward to something that much...;-))
    xoxo
    trine

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  26. I really loved this post! I currently have this last semester to go and I will have my M.F.A. in Creating Writing, with a minor in English Literature. I have pretty much known that I wanted to be a teacher since I got to high school and discovered how technology tended to replace a lot of common day communication between people. Upon meeting my AP English teacher my sophomore year, she was my main inspiration for pursuing the occupation of a high school English teacher. A lot of people ask me why I didn't go directly into teaching after I got my 4 year degree, but I decided not to mainly because I had a little one a year ago, so I stuck to my 9-5 day job while I took night classes. I can't wait to get started, I know that this is how I want to spend my life.
    A lot of the things you mentioned about this post resonate with me strongly!

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  27. I really loved reading this.

    At one point I considered being a teacher. Some days I wish I would have stuck with it. I wanted to teach social studies.

    This post reminds me of the reasons why I wanted to teach. And maybe one day I'll try taking that leap again.

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  28. So glad you shared this!!! your blog is always so inspiring to me, and one of my daily reads. :)

    My mom, boss, boy friend, and good friend all have English degrees and so i kinda identify with the "quick road to unemployment" statement. My mom is a legal secretary, my boss is an attorney, my boy friend and friend work for a computer software company.... so it's funny to think, "huh, so this is what you do with an English degree." but having them around to edit my papers is awesome i must say!!

    but on a serious note, it's so awesome that you found a path relating to your area of studies. :)
    i currently am an elementary education major (with only 1 class left before graduating). i've wanted to do it since i was 5 years old. i'm not sure why, no one in my family was in education, but somehow i've just known this whole time its what i wanted to do. often times in my classes i freak out about it, worrying if it's really my calling, but then once im in the classroom with the students, i remember how much i love it. (except for those times when im thrown in and not even introduced to the students...which i guess im not alone in afterall, ha!)

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  29. I've been following your blog for a couple weeks now and I am so happy and grateful that I found it. I graduated from college a couple years ago with a BA in English, and while I have an amazing job in the editorial department of a local alt-weekly, I just haven't been feeling fulfilled. For a few months I've been contemplating the idea of teach high school English, but I've been petrified of the idea of going back to school. Thank you for this post. It was very inspiring for me and gave me the nudge I needed to finally push myself to reach the goals that make me happy. Thank you.

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  30. Danielle,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I was a teacher for a short time with a civic education organization after I graduated college and I loved it. It was too hard to continue past my six month contract because of the hours, but I enjoyed it. I loved teaching and watching the students learn from me and from each other and I think I learned just as much from them as they learned from me. It was a great way to spend 6 months and I'll never forget it. During that time, I actually thought I might want to become a teacher and even thought about moving out to Arizona (where I have some family friends who were teachers in Phoenix) to go to school and teach. I have since discovered it's not my path, but I admire teachers and I'm so glad that you shared your story. English was one of my favorite classes in high school and I'm sure you make it great for your students! Thanks again for sharing.

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  31. The idea of teaching knocked me over the head one day. That’s really the only way I could explain it. I was getting my BFA in studio art and trying desperately to figure out what I was going to do when I graduated. I wasn't interested in advertising, or digital mediums. I am an artist with a great love of all traditional art mediums. So that leaves me without much of a career path. What better than to spread the love!?

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  32. I'm so glad you posted this!

    I'm currently in my junior year in my teaching program. When I finish in June 2012, I will be K-8 Certified. Right now, I'm in the middle of my first practicum and although it's super stressful and overwhelming at times, It has really reaffirmed my suspicions that I picked the right career.

    I'm not really sure what made me want to be a teacher but I've been set on this since I was in elementary school myself.

    I'd love to hear some of your stories, both good and bad. It makes me feel so much better to know that there is someone out there who loves their job but is honest about the not-so great moments!

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  33. your blog today was so inspiring! my husband is also a high school teacher (history, government, economics) and he loves it so much. when i met him ten years ago, and found out that he was a high school teacher, it was one of the first things that i fell in love with. your choice to become a teacher is so admirable and amazing. thank you! :) lora

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  34. it was great reading how you came to be an english teacher. my boyfriend is going to college for english/poetry. he once wanted to go in to marketing, but he's changed a lot over the years and landed on english. i am happy for him, though. he is really passionate about it.

    thanks for sharing your story with us all!

    :)

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  35. it was great reading how you came to be an english teacher. my boyfriend is going to college for english/poetry. he once wanted to go in to marketing, but he's changed a lot over the years and landed on english. i am happy for him, though. he is really passionate about it.

    thanks for sharing your story with us all!

    :)

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  36. It's reading things like this that make me so excited that I'm going into Social Studies Ed. My emphasis is history, and I'm so excited! I'm getting into my core pedogogical classes right now, and am enjoying everyone! :)

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  37. I graduated high school in 2004, and i finally started going to college a year and 1/2 ago! i originally wanted to be a high school english teacher as well- i have always made A's in my english classes, and thought it was my niche. however, a couple of electives and an inspiring teacher later... i have decided to pursue a degree in anthropology and humanities and hope to become either a high school teacher or a college professor! thanks for sharing, it's helpful to hear that there is a happy ending after all of the hard work! :]

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  38. Thank you so, so, so much for posting this. I'm on the path to being a HS English teacher as well. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a teacher but I struggled with the decision because I was terrified by the idea of being unemployed due to budget cuts and freezes. I finally decided that I should go for it since teaching was the only job I could see myself enjoying. I just wanted to tell you that this post was really interesting and reassuring! I always love reading your blog entires and enjoying your pictures. You're such a positive person with such a sweet and accomplished life, it's truly inspiring.

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  39. Thank you for your post. It was really inspiring! Until recently, I was an NAU Elementary Education major. I started up in Flagstaff and moved back down to the valley to help take care of my father who had a stroke. I was attending the NAU Distance program, and it just wasn't the same experience for me. The classes were less inspiring and I didn't get the same butterflies that I got at NAU. My practicum teachers were awful and passed out worksheets and complained a LOT about the other teachers, the parents, the kids...let's just say it wasn't the best experience. Right before going into my senior year, I was just dreading student teaching. It seemed awful - having to do someone else's job and pay to do it?! No thanks! I dropped out of the program before it started back up that fall. It was a REALLY hard decision...I knew that teaching would be something that I would be really good at, but having had firsthand experience in the classroom, it wasn't what I wanted to get into. The politics of teaching were just too much. I've started exploring other majors and I still haven't found one that's right for me. There are times when I think about going back into teaching (I would only have one year left, which sounds REALLY nice right about now!) but I get worried because I didn't like it the first time. This post will definitely swim around in my mind for a while and I'm glad to hear that there are people that still really enjoy teaching - it's very inspiring! Thank you so much for posting about this - you are the best and I absolutely love your blog!

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  40. thank you so much for posting this Danielle. I've been having a really hard time following my heart lately, and i know now that if i trust my instincts and desires instead of the fear, that everything will work out the way it's supposed to be! Thank you for reminding me of that, i cannot tell you how priceless it is to make that kind of discovery!:)

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  41. Incredible story Danielle thanks for sharing!

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  42. i really loved reading this! i recently graduated from college only to go directly into a master's program...now i'm feeling really unsure about my choice and have been considering changing to a teaching degree. i can't tell if it's because that seems less risky or if it's something i really want. this post has pushed me more towards the teaching side! thank you for this! xox

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  43. I was the same way in high school- English consumed my life! Now I'm majoring in English at university but I don't want to teach. I'm terrified every day that I won't be able to find a job in my field when I graduate within the year!

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  44. Hi! Right now I am in my senior year of the elementary ed program at my school. In the fall I student teach! I'm excited but also really nervous. I wanted to be a teacher up until about 6th grade, and then I thought that teaching just wasn't for me. My junior year of high school I had some sort of epiphany that I wanted to be an english teacher. Then when I started to think about it, the idea of teaching teenagers scared the crap out of me! So, I settled on elementary. Really, I think I'll like this more because I enjoy not only english but also history and science. I glad to hear that you love your job! Sometimes I get negative reactions from people when I tell them I'm going to be a teacher ("kids are so bad these days," "the pay isn't good," "you won't be able to find a job" etc.)which gets on me nerves after awhile. You definitely made me feel better about my career choice. Thanks!

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. i'm so glad you posted this!! I want to be an 11th grade English teacher and this was a huge inspiration

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  47. Thanks for sharing this! It's funny how we come across our calling sometimes. :)

    I was originally going to be a teacher - I love teaching younger kids - but wound up an art major in the end. Sometimes I wonder what it would've been like had I kept on teaching, or become an art teacher... Hmm.

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  48. I really enjoyed reading your entire post. I think that teachers are one of the most important parts of everyone's life. Almost everyone goes to school at some point and you can ask any of those people who their favorite teachers was or who wasn't for that matter. I started my college education thinking that I was going into Education. I stopped and got my cosmetology license and then went on to get my instructors license. I have never been more happy then to love my students more than anything. Seeing their success is something that made my day, every day. Unfortunately that did not last do to the not so great owners and management, but I went back to school and teaching was what I turned too. After another semester I realized that I wasn't as passionate about subjects as I thought I needed to be. It was hard to pull away from the dream of being a teacher, but it was the right choice. Schools need more teacher that are in love with their job, therefore making it impossible not to love school for those students. So thank you to all of those educators that smile when their students come through the door because it really does make the difference.

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  49. First off, looks like a really nice classroom. Any of my rooms in high school didn't look that updated. I'm 22 now and I cant imagine getting up in front of a room of high schoolers and trying to make them listen to me. It all just seems to scary. Two of my best friends are in their last year or so to become teachers. That was so great that you got the job at the only school. I can imagine how nervous that would make you, only having one option for jobs in your area. It was nice hearing about your experience though.

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  50. Hi Danielle, I've been reading your blog for about a month now but this is my first time commenting for whatever reason. I really appreciated this post because I'm still in undergrad right now but in a year or so I'll be in my school's Masters in Teaching program and I'll be getting my endorsement in high school English too!

    I'm so excited and scared to get into the classroom and start applying all of the things I have learned so far. I've always kind of known that I wanted to do this but it is always encouraging to hear other people talk about their positive experiences.

    Do they offer you a lot of freedom in terms of the curriculum or no? It seems like Prescott is fairly middle class but I could be totally wrong. This is what I'm struggling with right now because I'd love to go into a lower income school and work with kids who maybe haven't had anyone who cares to inspire them but on the other hand, I'd really love to have more freedom to teach what I want. From my understanding, this is usually only allowed in well-off areas or private schools. What is your experience?

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  51. I really enjoyed reading about your path to Teacher-dom. I can relate to your story. I too had an undergrad degree in English and didn't quite know what to do after that (read: I was a restaurant waitress). Like you, I took the plunge into grad school. My love for people and literature took me a different way though; I got my master's in library and information science. I'm wondering if you ever considered that as a career path? Anywho, after graduating in 2005, I landed a really cool job as a children's/YA librarian and have since been promoted to a public library director. Crazy, I would have never thought I'd grow up to be a librarian, just like you prob never pictured yourself as a teacher.

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  52. I received my bachelor's degree in elementary education in April 2009, but in the great state of Michigan, teaching jobs are very scarce & many teachers are being laid off. This means that I am {{unfortunately}} a full-time substitute teacher for the time being :(. I'm looking to start a Masters in English program this spring/summer however, with hopes of being "highly qualified" to teach high school and community college English, which makes me SO excited to think about! I'm a little worried about grad school; do you have any words of wisdom?

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  53. I love reading your blog, especially because I am a high school English teacher as well! I also got my MAT when I was 22 years old and already had a job waiting for me when I graduated--it was a great feeling!

    My mom is also a teacher, and absolutely loves it. I come from many generations of teachers actually, so until I was in high school I vowed I would not be a teacher like the rest of my family. But I had some truly amazing English teachers in high school that made me realize I wanted to impact students the same way they did. So I got my Bachelor's degree in English Lit and then my MAT in secondary English!

    I completely agree with you about how amazing it is to be a teacher--I love every single day!!!

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  54. Oh, I am so happy you wrote this. I plan on majoring in biology, but English was always my favourite, and being a teacher has always been a serious consideration. My father's a professer, his parents were teachers, my maternal grandmother was a teacher...it runs in the family. :)
    I was really worried that, if I majored in biology, I couldn't teach English; however, after talking to my teachers, they all assured me it was possible. Now I cannot wait to graduate and go to college, and after that...who knows? I would love to teach English or biology...or both! Is that possible? I don't know, haha. But in any case, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I can't wait for more school posts!

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  55. your classroom is so inspiring! no stupid teacher cut-out apples, etc.

    way to go, lady!!

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  56. I am always so inspired by your writtings here on your blog. I have so many blogs that I follow, and can't always read every entry from each one, but I do make it a point to read all of yours for sure! Your story about becoming a teacher is amazing. I have always thought about becoming a teacher, but I guess it just seems really scary to me! I'm about to go to school for Interior Design. I would love to get my masters eventually, so maybe one day I will be able to get over that fear, and teach. the fact that you teach is just amazing. I think that is one of the most awesome careers one could have...to open young minds! Keep being you and never change because you are awesome!

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  57. I'm an aspiring teacher -- I'm thinking middle school. Never thought I would be considering I didn't necessarily enjoy my years in junior high, but I recently began thinking about how vital it is that children that age have people in their lives that care about their well being and that want to pour into them as they are discovering who they are. I love kids and working with them - they're inspiring and always giving new perspectives.

    I liked hearing your story - thank you for sharing!

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  58. Thank you for this entry. My father, also a teacher, now a principal, would allow me in his class and i entirely enjoyed those days. I am graduating with a Bachelor degree in English with a writing concentration and a double minor in photography and art history. I'm not exactly what my future holds job wise, but I'm interested in getting to the publishing world. Your blog entry made me teary-eyed. You should be proud of yourself and I"m happy you enjoy your job.

    -Christine

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  59. Prior to the economic meltdown I was a website copywriter in NYC. I have been out-of-work for the last nine months and would love to get my master's degree to teach. Unfortunately, until my financial situation improves, that dream will have to wait.

    I enjoy your blog, keep up the good work.

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  60. its a coincidence i would read this entry, usually i'm a "browse thru the pictures" kinda person when i start school cuz i'm so busy. but i just changed majors to be a teacher. i want to work w deprived adolescents or special needs in the 6-8 grades. i dont want to teach general ed though, i'd rather be teaching art to these types of students. i'd love to talk to somebody in this setting and see the pros and cons of public vs private

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  61. I'm so happy I read this post! I love the part where you describe yourself as a smile -- very true (I think I've realized just how true this is by having restroom duty every morning this year -- a smile makes such a difference in every encounter). I am a high school technology teacher, and I couldn't agree with you more that we as teachers have a fantastic job! And the students are the biggest reason. It's refreshing to read your post, because it seems that so many of the encounters I have with other teachers are so negative, and that mindset can be so contagious. You are a welcomed breath of fresh air!

    PS -- your classroom is so pretty!

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  62. I am halfway through my second year of studying to be an elementary teacher. I knew that teaching was the career for me when I was a freshman in high school. I joined a club at my HS called FTA(Future Teachers of America). I really only joined the club to get the cool t-shirt and skip a day of class while doing shadow teaching. I was lucky enough to shadow(observe) my second grade teacher. I went in a little nervous hoping that I wouldn't have to do a lot and I came out knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was a day that changed my life. My teacher loved what she did, and it showed in every way. I got a lot of time to talk to her about her career and how she got where she is. I continued to stay in FTA for the remainder of my HS career. I am now a second semester sophomore at a small private college in Southwest Missouri. The college that I go to is a little different than most colleges because every student works 15 hours per week to pay for all tuition costs. I can't wait to be a teacher. It is truly the only thing that keeps me going some days. I know that if I keep working toward my goal, one day I will be so greatful that I stuck with it. I love to read about your teaching experiences, they are very inspiring to a soon-to-be teacher like myself.

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  63. Thank you so much for this post. I am currently studying to become a high school English teacher. I am in an accelerated Master's program similar to yours. Thank You for your story, Your blog is a delight!

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  64. Danielle-
    I have to say, thank you for this post. I graduated from ASU in PR and Strategic Media with a minor in Theatre. I have long struggled with my career path. Once I graduated, the job market had nothing for me. I have been working a job that takes and offers me nothing back. I got an idea of what it is like to teach when I did an improv workshop for a theatre company that I volunteer for. They are all high school students and working with them gave me such a feeling of impact and I felt as if I had been filled up. I have always loved English, literature, poetry, and theatre. I love how they all relate. I keep seeing and hearing more clues, if you will, that are pointing me towards that profession. I found such an inspiration in your story. Anyways... Thank you for sharing your words and life.

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  65. Danielle,
    I've only been following your blog a short time as I just got into blogging myself. I found to be pleasantly surprised that you are a teacher where I went to High School (many moons ago). I miss Prescott sometimes, I lived there from 5 to 19 and haven't been back in quite a few years. I would like to get a booth there at the courthouse when they have the craft shows in the summer, one of these years I will make it!

    I enjoy your blogs! Thank you for sharing!
    Teresa-

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  66. I'm just leaving a quick, random comment here to let you know I stumbled across your blog randomly and am IN LOVE. I'm an aspiring teacher as well (also heavily tattooed) and just in an hour or so of skimming this over it's been incredibly heart-warming and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing and please keep doing so!

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  67. I hope one day to have a story like this. I just graduated this past may and I am looking for a job. I love what you said about how amazing it is. It's so refreshing to hear that from a teacher instead of "do something else" with your life. Student teaching only reaffirmed that this is the ONLY thing I want to do with my life. Love your blog!

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  68. I've always wanted to teach a science class and be one of those young teachers :) I'm really excited to read about this! My older sister is about to go back to school for her teaching certificate and now I'm glad I have many questions for her. Maybe I'll finally look into it!

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  69. Hello,
    like many of your readers, I was glad to stumble upon this. One of your regular readers read my recent post on becoming a teacher and directed me to your blog. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am getting back into teaching (also high school English) later in life that you. I am in my early 30s. I have some professors that are very negative, and it can be discouraging. I also did several years of graduate school after getting my B.A. in English only to discover that I want to TEACH not research. This was a hard mental transition to make because in graduate school your professors expect you to become scholars, not teacher (my M.A. as in literature). Although it's taken me a while to realize that I want to teach, I am glad I made the decision. Your story is inspiring. These are the things I need to read while I am in school to remind myself that it is all worth it in the end.

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  70. Wow, you seriously make me feel so much better about myself and not being able to decide on a major. Hopefully I can come to a decision soon.

    Little Sugar Monster

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  71. Hi there! I just stumbled upon your blog and I LOVE finding other young teachers! I teach high school photography, and it really is one of the best gigs out there-if it's something your cut out to do. The pay sucks, but teaching something you love to a room full of sponges is exciting and rewarding.
    I also love all your tattoos! I always put off getting them because I was afraid it would hurt my ability to find a job, especially in teaching. Now that I am 23 and have a job, it might be time...
    NikkNaks
    http://nikkibit.blogspot.com/

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  72. I love this post (and your engagement story post)!! My dad is from Prescott and went to Prescott High (but I think that building is now the middle school) - and my cousins went to Prescott High as well. Anyways, Prescott is like a second home to me, and I have to say I've fallen in love with you a little bit more now that I know you are living in a town that I absolutely adore!! We are heading up there in two weeks to spend time with some family and just enjoy the town!!

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  73. I went to school to be a art teacher. More for the art and not so much the teaching. I have spent the last five years trying to get a job teaching just art and have struggled immensely. I have had multiple positions in the education field but I have not received even one job interview for an art teaching position. After five years I have decided to put the education field behind he and have take a job as a social workers. I just wish I had been given the opportunities you had and hope someday you are able to teach again if that is what you desire. Thanks for the post.

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  74. oh, this post made me tear up! I'm currently a grad student, focusing on Secondary English and have hit the speed bump of self doubt. I happened upon your blog, quite by accident, but as always, I'm finding every accident has it's own purpose in the scheme of things. So, I'm left grateful reading your story. Thank you so very much.

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  75. What an amazing, inspiring, beautifully written post. I have always wanted to be a teacher. Ever since I was little, it has always been in me. Since getting to college I've changed my major about 10 times, and between changes, I always keep coming back to teaching and then moving away from it because I get so scared. What if I can't do it, what if I'm no good at it, what if I do all the work and I can't find a job? What if, what if, what if. . .

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  76. Ah, it all makes sense now. It's amazing how you can read somebody's blog for "so long" and you still have so many things to learn. All of the posts on favorite books absolutely make sense now. Not that they didn't make sense before, they just make MORE sense now. I loved this story. I had a major I wasn't in love with. I'm working a job that I'm not in love with - it's fine, but I don't get excited to get up in the morning. So it's nice to know that it's possible. I considered teaching for a little bit, who knows, maybe that's where I'll end up one day :)

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  84. I'm SO pleased I came across this post! I've thought about teaching for most of my life, and having just graduated with a BA in English Lit I found myself completely terrified by the future - by everything in fact! Despite having always kind of thought I'd end up a teacher, reading about PGCE courses and life as a teacher made me more and more afraid. What if I can't do this? Where do I even start? Can I, really, stand in front of classes of 11-18 year olds every day, and teach them about what I love? Isn't that the scariest and yet most amazing thing? Thanks to this, I'm feeling a little more positive. Maybe I can, actually do this. It's OK to be afraid, but being afraid shouldn't stop me going for it and at least trying! Thanks so much for this post :)

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  85. I am about to start my own journey to become an English teacher! Reading this post gave me hope. I've always been passionate about all things "English"-- specifically creative writing. I'm hoping to get a degree in Comparative Literature with a minor in Creative Writing... it's been a nerve-wracking decision! Not to mention it has taken a lot of bouncing around from degree to degree! I'm just so glad to have read this post and all the relatable comments. It's very comforting to know I'm not alone in this process!! Great read! :)

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  87. Hey there :) thanks so much for sharing! I also love English and plan to study to become an English and History next year. I've wanted to be a teacher my whole life but recently I've really been questioning it, feeling scared to make the wrong decision. However, I really feel like teaching is something I will love. Thanks again for sharing :)

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  88. I’m so glad I came across this post!

    I’m 23, a freelance writer with a degree in Communications majoring in Journalism and minoring in Communications and Media & Creative Writing.

    I was halfway through my journalism degree when I realised hard news journalism wasn't for me. It’s just not in my personality to almost brutally push for stories. I couldn't do it. Finally I accepted it as a personal trait and not as me failing.

    
Since graduating I’ve been doing freelancing trying to get into an editorial magazine position. But honestly, the idea of getting a standard journalism job where you need to punch out numerous stories a day, and fast - is terrifying. Rejection has been a common point in developing certain illness’s in my life (in other words it’s a health trigger for me) and in journalism industry it’s inescapable and consistent. I’m also a perfectionist and my creativity has a mind of it’s own (it can go missing for days). But I love feature writing and creative writing. I love all things words.

    For a while now I have been considering going back to uni to teach high school english. The more I’ve thought about it, the more excited I’ve become. The idea of helping students realise the beauty and power in words, and helping that love to grow…. helping them to express themselves - I love it. And I could still do my feature writing and creating writing on the side. 

    But I’m worried because I wasn't born with that “teacher passion”, I’m making the wrong move and will once again find I’m not cut out for it :( . I know it’s going to be hard - I’m under no illusions but I really think I want to do it, I’m just scared.
    Your story has given me the lots to think about! So thank you or sharing :)

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  89. I was searching on Google and came across your blog. I am a veteran (I got out in August of 2015) and an English major. I want to become a teacher and your post just inspired me even more. Your blog confirmed that I am on the path I want to be on. I have changed my major many times but I have finally found something I absolutely love. I want to be able to inspire someone and share my love of literature with young minds. Thank you for this.

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  90. I just read this. I have debating on becoming an English teacher. I always played "school" growing up. I loved it. I always wanted to be a teacher but like you, I shied away from it as well because, well I don't really know honestly. I have switched my major many times and I am now going to go for my teaching degree. I graduated high school in 2008 and have been in college off and on. After reading this, I am going for it. I was on the fence about it at first. I figured I would talk myself out of doing it but, not this time. Thank you for writing this!

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  91. I absolutely loved reading your article! You and I have had the same kind of feelings going towards trying to find the right career path. I myself have been stuck in the same kind of rut of wanting to be a teacher but just not knowing how to actually pursue it. Your blog was so well written and I genuinely enjoyed it!
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