Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hey, Weren't You Going to School?

A year or so ago I was in a fairly bad place mentally as far as career and goals and "what will I do" goes and out of that place came the idea that maybe I should get a teaching certificate for high school English. This conclusion came from the facts that I don't really like my job (well, I like the people I work with and the access my job gives me to media retrieval, but I don't really like what I do or who I do it for) and, when pressed for criteria possible future plans, I really want my work to visibly and concretely help people (for the uninitiated, I currently work at a television station as a Master Control Operator...not particularly beneficial to society). I was not wholly convinced I could be a teacher, but decided that I could find out what I needed to do and make my decisions as they came.
Four tests, a background check, a tuberculosis screening, 45 hours volunteering at a high school in Berkeley, 3 letters of recommendation, and a year of near-constant uncertainty later I was enrolled at San Francisco State University in the teaching credential program and setting myself up to be a student teacher at Oakland School for the Arts. I have never been the most organized person on the planet (a ritual for me throughout junior high and high school would be to find my spotless school-provided assignment book at the very bottom of my locker at the end of the year), but I knew that I would need extreme organization if I was to successfully juggle a full time school schedule, two to three days a week of being at the high school, 40 hours a week at my job, and try and maintain my band, not to mention marriage. To this end I began scheduling my life as strictly as possible, utilizing a kitchen calendar and even a date book I purchased at Target (!) Organizing is actually made quite easy with a schedule like mine was because, basically, if you don't take every available minute to get things done you will fail. So as soon as I got home from work I would sequester myself in the office for school work until sleep and the same went for the days I didn't work but did have college and high school classes. Surprisingly I found that this constant activity was good for me, one of the main problems of my previous life (post college) was that I had a hard time motivating myself to do things for myself in my spare time. School eliminates this possibility by giving one a reason why one must be constantly busy. Interestingly it also stimulates productivity in other areas...for instance I found myself being creative again as far as writing and drawing are concerned, which is something that had fallen by the wayside in my doldrums period. Anyway, I was carried by this new momentum and my rediscovery of my love of learning and intellectual discussion and it seemed as though I had a made good choice. Still, I was never convinced that teaching was something I wanted to do.
This all came to a head when I began to think about what I'd have to do during the second semester. The second semester of the program is focused almost entirely on the student teaching and I would be required to be at the high school 5 days a week teaching at least one hour of class each day, plus college course on top. If working full time on the side during the first semester is strongly advised against in order to protect a student's personal sanity, then working full time during the second semester is impossible according to the laws of time and space. So, I would have to quit my job by December...which meant having to borrow money either from a bank or my parents (neither appealing for reasons of, respectively, suspicion and dumb midwestern stubbornness). Plus, it would most likely mean my wife (also working and going to school) would have to not go to school for a semester and just work. On top of this I would have no job after school and it would be at least three months before I could start a teaching job in the fall. After all of this crystallized in my mind during the fourth week of class I began to question...well, everything. I spent a fairly hellish weekend mulling this all over, my mind consumed with questions like "Do I really want to go through all this hassle for something that I don't know that I want to do?", "Shouldn't I just be doing this for the benefit of the kids?", "If I decide not to do it does that mean I'm just a lazy coward?", and "If I don't do this what will I do?" And on and on and on. I polled my wife and relatives, but ultimately, of course, they could only offer their perspective. The answers had to come from me.
In the end I figured out that I did indeed love the learning and discussion and even the schedule of school, but I honestly did not want to be a teacher. During the worst of the weekend thinking I was incredibly concerned about disappointing those that were so excited and proud of me for starting the program, but also realized that my life had become based on what others would feel about my decisions (this began an incredibly steep and slick slope which I won't go into here). Anyway, the long and short of it is...wanting to change careers and help people is not a good enough reason to become a teacher. I can always take classes at community college or adult education and there are plenty of other things I can do to help people.
The key now is to still stay might think that life without school would be easier, but I now have to come up with my own motivation to do things because there is no set plan so it's actually quite a bit harder, but, I believe healthier in the long run than embarking on an incredibly intense career that is not right for me.

"La Vie en Rose" as performed by Louis Armstrong is the perfect song for today's post. From the light piano triplets and strings that begin the song to the crescendo screaming trumpet at the end this song is wonderful. It is actually what my wife and I walked down the aisle to. Mr. Armstrong's trademark growl is tender and buoyant and...well, there isn't much that needs to be's perfect.

Highly recommended for romantic occasions or just to make you feel good.

1 comment:

  1. I missed this post in between the other two. I'm glad you came to a decision you are happy with!

    I enjoy reading your creative writing on here as well. :) I just haven't commented because I can't figure out how to comment in Firefox.