So though I am loathe to share anything about this journey until success is guaranteed, I feel as if I must. Today I had my interview for the Masters in Teaching program at the UofA. I’ve actually been working towards this for about a year. I started off in the Non Traditional Licensure program and then discovered that getting that certification was not as beneficial as going through a university program. And that you could actually go through the program, pay the money and if you didn’t secure acceptable employment, you’d lose your license. Seems like a risk, since hiring around these parts that program is at the bottom. And I want to teach so very much.
I withdrew from the NTLP when I realized this and began the process of hoping to be admitted to the MA at the UofA. This has been humbling to say the least. I already have an MA and I did very well, even though Bev Voloshin degraded our degrees as only being from a state university, it was still not an easy thing to pull off a four point. And work, and go through a divorce. I think I’m still bothered with her disparaging us while she taught in the department, but hey, her karma not mine.
Of course I digress; this entry is about digression because how I have come to this is all about digression. I wanted to be a high school English teacher when I graduated from high school. I let myself be talked out of it as not prestigious enough. How sad is that–both me being talked out of it and the fact that the job of teaching our kids isn’t prestigious? I got my BA and tried law school and left it before formally enrolling. I was told by a really nice prof at Hastings, where I went for a “so you want to be a lawyer” day that I really wasn’t suited to it. I will not name his/her name but it came down to the fact that it was obvious to me what right and wrong was and that I would harm my psyche by making that malleable. I’m still grateful. While I enjoy reading in/about the law I am uncomfortable with so much about the law and the fact I could never fully defend someone in whom I didn’t believe.
And there is actually a crux. I need passion and desire to drive what I do. A belief that what I’m doing makes some sort of difference. Well mostly. When I worked in tech it was all for the love of the puzzle. I enjoyed and needed the challenge of the puzzle. How to make things work that shouldn’t. Or wouldn’t or didn’t. I loved being the one who came through with the impossible solution. It fed my brain in a way that offered completion. A problem, work, then a solution. MY solution. I made things work.
But I made things work for money. And some good money. I’m glad I did too. I’m glad I have that mastery behind me. I did things, built things, made things that are still running today. I, an English major, built large, freaking large computer networks. And they were elegant and functioned so very well. (Even after a male boss told me that girls shouldn’t do computers, that still cracks me up).
And, as they say, it was good. Until…
Until it got to be too much. Until I never got to stop. Until I couldn’t go home, turn it off, stop working. And until something became more important. That was the difficult conception and birth of our daughter. I have some things I’m very very proud of and the birth of our daughter is at the top of that list, right there with getting my Master’s in English and marrying J and being a devoted catmom. And building the most elegant multi state network I could conceive of. Perhaps I am supposed to say giving birth is always the finest achievement, but honestly women have been doing that for years and I did nothing special, as difficult as it was (complications). My personal achievements…well I worked for years on those. But our daughter changed priorities for me.
I realized it isn’t just about personal achievement, though honestly I enjoy good grades/reviews/raises. It’s about a legacy. I learned that as I watched my mother’s husband die. What will YOU regret as you realize there is so little time left? What will you wish you could have done? Had more time for? And as I spent time talking with him and learning a little more about his life, as I was lucky enough to do before my own father died, I realized I need to be the one who fires up teenagers for words. For Shakespeare’s words. For Ibsen’s and Gogol’s, for Shaw and Marlowe. Because this is where our soul, our collective soul resides. We have all felt everything they’ve written, they just put the pen to paper, or the typewriter or the computer. It may be out of fashion now, in this world of numbers and dollars to speak of our ineffable, incalculable, gorgeous soul but I mean to speak of it. It CANNOT be unimportant that we feel. It cannot be unimportant to read. It cannot be unimportant to learn to read beneath and between the lines. How else do you find a way to love, but through the words of Shakespeare or Michelle Tea? How else do you understand the fearful ugliness we all keep hidden except through Walter’s insanity in Chaucer’s Clerk’s tale? Why wouldn’t you write poetry? Why wouldn’t you write lyrics? And why wouldn’t I want to grasp this desire and joy and give it with both hands abundantly to a kid on the verge of feeling all these things?
Isn’t this how we feel? Isn’t this how we learn to distinguish the hair’s breadth of the difference between fear and love? Don’t words give us the meaning to our lives?
Or maybe I’m a loon. Every SINGLE time I mention what I’m doing, that I want to be a high school English teacher, someone rolls their eyes. Or sighs heavily and says “yeah, good luck.” Or “Oh god.”
Honestly, WTF? I realize I’ll lose status. Even though, should I be admitted and graduate from this program I’ll have three degrees. For some reason teachers aren’t viewed as professionals. Which is odd to me since we leave OUR CHILDREN in their care for seven hours each day. That strikes me as bizarre. Is it the bureaucracy? Is it the insane language that of the government that intrudes upon education (my early opinion, this could change). Why are people STILL trying to dissuade me?
Because I have to say–last semester I had epiphanic moments almost daily. I stood in front of a class in Elkins after reading a book I’d never read before and preparing a lesson on it–it took 9 hours–I wrote my outline on the board, sure of what I’d understood, sure of what I wanted to give to those students and I felt a joy so amazing, I felt my place in the universe, like I’d felt few times before. I wanted to give them my understanding so much it almost hurt. And this happened again nearly every single day I taught Othello at FHS. I’d go to class tired and within minutes of talking to the students that was gone, the desire for them to know Othello’s flaw and Iago’s evil–which they will see over and over and over in the world–it was so strong, I couldn’t possibly be tired, not even a little.
So there you go. I won’t know until April. but I’m so grateful to have gotten this far. I’ve been graced by some wondrous people who are helping me on this path. Should it not turn out, I have to say I’ve learned to trust in people again because of this entire journey. I’ve had such a convoluted and difficult road. I’ve seen violence and lived with fear but these people saw something worthwhile in me. After10 or in some cases 17 years, former bosses,professors and teachers have written letters, let me teach or just encouraged me to help me finally be the person I wanted to be when I dreamed unhindered by other’s viewpoints or my own fear. This gives me faith again in myself and a need to prove them right.
So why was it so bad to be a teacher again? What am I missing? Why shouldn’t I want this?