Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Type of Teacher...

About this time some years ago, I was finishing up my master's degree in education. I had taken four final exams on four generalized subjects on four different days. Perhaps someday I'll tell you about those exams. I remember vividly walking back on the campus with my wife and saying as we walked, "If I pass these exams and get my masters I will never set foot on this campus again." I was tired and it had been grueling although at times very exhilarating. It took me five years of summer school to work on my masters--four summers of classes and one summer to start on my thesis. Beginning the thesis was the low part--there were no professors I could turn to for emotional assistance. I just had to get it organized and started.

But this is what a lot of teachers do--go back to school in the summers working to improve their teaching and classroom activities. Let's be honest--it also helps the salary raises to have a master's degree.

But I had completed the thesis and finally had taken my exams. I would be free and clear of the university. I could feel the weight coming off my shoulders even before I knew what the results were on the tests. Walking into the Dean's office, one of the secretaries recognized me and said did I want to see the test results? After fumbling around with a pile of blue books she tossed me my tests all incased in a rubber band. The first one on "Audiovisual" had a high pass--the best you can do. The next one on School Administration was a pass along with one on Guidance and Counseling which was also a pass. The last one, Curriculum and Instruction, which I had been worried about was a high pass. For heaven's sake. I had done well and I had my master's degree. But written on the Curriculum and Instruction test booklets was a note--"Please come see me." and a name. It was the head of the Curriculum and Instruction department. Didn't know him. Damn, now I had to come back on campus. Maybe I had some of my facts wrong and he wanted to be sure I was straight on the issue--who knows. But still, I was done--I had passed so Lynn and I did what we usual did on special occasions, went out for a good dinner someplace. Blew the budget. That was okay, I would get a small pay raise.

A few weeks later I went back to the campus to Miller Hall and asked to see Dr. J. He was very gracious and had me sit down. Then he said he was impressed with my tests and had I ever considered getting my doctoral degree. We talked for a few minutes and then I left. Damn! Double Damn! Why did he have to go and do that. Damn, Damn Damn.

I went home and talked to Lynn. Actually we had many talks in the days to follow. Soul searching talks. My first inclination was to just say no! No more classes, no more research projects--I was tired. But we talked about what if....! We'd have to move to Seattle. We'd have to find another place to live. Lynn would have to get a different job. I would have to quit my teaching position where I was. I could ask for a year's leave of absence but I knew in my heart that if I did that I was hedging my bets. Quitting would make me serious. Finally, we decided I had to do it. It would be tough financially and I might flunk out after the first quarter but if I didn't try it would always be hanging over my head--could I have done it? So the die was cast. I taught one more year and sent in my letter of resignation.

In the next blog, four of my favorite years--the most fun in education that I ever had.

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