Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How does one become a teacher?

I probably decided to want to be a teacher in high school.  I had teachers throughout my intervening years that had encourage me, taught me, took time to know me so those teachers always remained in the back of my head.  I also had teachers who were not my favorites for a variety of reasons.  They too were part of my decision process--I can remember thinking at times that I could do it better.  But the strongest motivation were those who were my mentors.

I entered college with the intent to major in education and music.  I was planning on becoming a music teacher.  I liked music and I liked people.  Please note that I wanted to be a teacher right from the beginning--there were friends of mine who were going to be professional musicians who came back to college to add their teaching certification.  Important point here.

My first summer home after my freshman year, I needed to find a summer job and if you've read these posts know that after a volunteered trip to the Bronx zoo I was offered a position as a summer playground supervisor.  The success that I encountered only increased my resolve and confidence.  No one supervised me at the playground but I heard that the kids went home and said they were having fun and this reached the head of the program.  Basically, he just left me alone.  I did this for two summers.

I went back to college with high hopes.  I enjoyed education classes.  Now on most university campuses the education department is looked down on.  "Anyone can teach--why do we need a department?"  I found my education classes interesting and in each one I picked up knowledge that has stood me in good faith all these years.  From learning to print correctly on a blackboard to child development I was inundated with "good stuff."

I graduated from college and took a job as Director of Elementary Music in a suburban school district east of Seattle.  Great title--I was the only elementary music teacher in the district.  I had four elementary schools, three large ones and one two room school house out in the county.  And no travel expenses.  I taught classroom music, mostly singing but some listening, started beginning bands in the fourth grade and had in two schools "advanced" band consisting of second and third year students.  One school had a choir at the insistence of the principal.  To be frank I had no idea of what I was doing.  My music classes at the college never taught me how to start a band--this I learned from good people in the surrounding music stores.  On the whole I considered my first year a success if having the kids enjoy and like music was a criteria and that the experienced teachers accepted me.  However, I was still learning to be a teacher.

This all came to an end when I was drafted into the Korean War.

When I returned to the school district, the administration was going to release the music teacher who had replaced me.  By law, I was allowed to have my old job back.....but that didn't make sense to me.  We were going to need two elementary music teachers as soon as one of the two new elementary schools were finished being built.  So I told the administration that they ought to make me a classroom teacher for a couple of years--I was certified K-12.   Because there was a teacher shortage at the time, this suggestion was quickly acted on and I became a fifth grade teacher.

I was the WORST grade school teacher that ever was......

But that is another blog at another time.  A continuation of how to become a teacher.

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