Let’s get serious for a moment. I don’t like to think I have commitment issues. That’s not exactly it. I just have to know, with every part of me that my choice is the right one. Even when I know, logically that I’d pick a particular something eventually anyway. I just like to know in my gut as well as my head that I’m making the right decision.
So the problem is, I’m considering going back to school. For those of you at home, I have two Masters degrees already. The idea of going back and acquiring more student debt is so beyond my ability to accept that I’ve put off this decision for two years. If I go back, I’ll go back and get a proper teaching certification, something I don’t currently have. My heart would like it to be for English grades 7-12. Although I know it would be smarter to go back for Math and Science instead. It will be much easier to get a job teaching the later. My brain and heart are fighting at the moment and I feel trapped, frozen in place and unable to make a choice.
This, of course, is a choice that I’ll have to make on top if deciding to do it all in the first place. Which is so frustrating to me. The thing is, I’ve been going at the full time writing thing for about five years. I’ve been writing stories far longer, but it always took a back seat to the rest of my life. Right now, writing is in the driver’s seat. I guess in a lot of ways, I feel like going back to school is some form of giving up on my dreams. I know deep down it’s not, but I can’t shake the voice saying it is.
If I did get the certification, I could work anywhere. It’s not terribly hard to transfer out of state and teach wherever found myself living. I’m not limited. Which despite my excessive education, I feel right now. Plus there’s the whole not working for 12-20 weeks thing while I student teach. I really, really, really struggle with that one. Not that I couldn’t learn a lot, because I know I would. But I’ve taught far more than that while getting paid teacher wages (instead of sub wages) as the teacher of record in long-term positions. It’s disheartening to think I’ll be doing the same thing for free, while I struggle to pay bills for up to five months.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it.
I just don’t like it.
I’ve reached out to my district and while they were really open and receptive to a program which would allow me to teach while I studied, unforntelty they probably won’t be in desperate need of someone in my position. Which leads me back to going to school. Again…
On the plus side, I’ve already filled out the FASFA and I have the school picked out. I’m a 4.0 student… okay, well as an adult I’m a 4.0 student. In my wise young teenage years, friends were a little more important than studying. I’ve only been able to raise my GPA to a 3.7 since. If you saw my transcripts from 2001-2003 you’d balk and clap me on the back for the improvement.
At the end of the day, I just need to decide to do it or not. I don’t know if teaching will ever be enough for me. Or if I’ll always want something more. I’m reminded of three teachers in my past. Two amazing ones and someone who won’t even remember that she impacted my life so negatively.
The first told me I’d never amount to anything. She said I would never go to college or graduate or leave our podunk town. She told me I would fail at anything I tried because I wasn’t good enough. Yep. A teacher said that to me. I was fifteen. She wasn’t even my teacher and while knowing logically that her opinion should have no barring on my life, it always has.
The second was my English teacher. We did a writing unit, specifically poetry. I reluctantly read my pieces out loud to the class. It was part of my grade, the sharing bit. Although I really tried to avoid it. Becuase sharing what you create is never easy. I remember one day sharing a poem which compared life to a painting. The class was silent when I finished speaking. My first thought was, shit… But then the teacher applauded and the class enthusiastically followed. Later he would pull me aside and tell me, that when I make it as a writer someday, he would like the first copy. It’s the first moment in my life where I look back and feel like someone who wasn’t blood supported my crazy idea of wanting to write. I am moved to tears when I think about this man. He passed away last year and I only wish, I could have given him a copy of my novel first. If it wasn’t for that moment to pull from during the lows, I might not have ever finished the first novel, to begin with, or started it in the first place.
The third was my math teacher. I was in his math class freshman year and I did remarkably well. Then sophomore year rolled around and I skipped more then I attended math. I never did my homework and despite passing all my tests with flying colors, I still failed. The only F I’ve ever received. I was placed in remedial math for the second semester with my Freshman Math teacher.
I’ll never forget that moment. I stood outside of his classroom until the absolute last minute. I walked into his class, held my head high and sat in the front. Mr. Woods slapped a ruler on my desk to get my attention. “Ms. Boyer, what the hell are you doing in my classroom?” I took a deep breath and smiled. “Turns out when you don’t do the homework or show up to class, they fail you. Go figure.” He tried to refrain from smiling but failed. He shook his head at me, “That’s the sorriest excuse I’ve ever heard. Hope you brought a book, you’re going to be bored.” And I was.
But when I came to him, nearly in tears about what teacher number one said, he told me she was wrong. I wanted to do Running Start. I wanted to go to college instead of high school and I had even found a way to do so and graduate with an AA. Mr. Woods told me he would help me study. I didn’t realize how good at math I actually was at the time. Mr. Woods and I came up with an agreement. When I got into the program, I would tutor the other students. See, the daily work in class only took me a few minutes to complete and I would spend the rest of the two-hour long period reading. I agreed and a few short weeks later I placed into calculus. To say math comes naturally is putting it lightly.
I guess while sometimes I think being a teacher wouldn’t be enough for me, I remember these people and I know in my heart they each changed and shaped my life. One tore me down. Two held me up. Every single day I go to work, I remember these teachers. I remember that what I say impacts those kids. I remember I have the ability to change their worldview or tear them down. I am proud to say, I’ve had kids who struggle in every class, with every teacher, and who walk into my classroom with a smile. Because I don’t tear them down. I hold them accountable and I ask that they push themselves to do more than they think they can. But I never want them to leave my classroom feeling less. I want them to leave feeling like they accomplished something grand and they can take on the world.
Maybe through this essay, I’ve answered my own doubts. I know going back to school doesn’t mean the end of things. It just means change. New adventures in life, and maybe just maybe, someone will write about me someday. About how Ms. Boyer impacted their life positively.