Monday, June 11, 2007

i can't decide! i think i'm going to throw up...

Here's Option #2. Please vote. Polls close Tuesday at 3pm.

Some of you may be wondering who I am and why I've been asked to speak tonight. Go ahead, look at the person next to you and ask if he or she knows what I'm doing here. I am a substitute teacher, although I have had a couple of my own classes at CAP the past two months. I'm not exactly sure why I've been asked to speak tonight, other than the Leadership group felt sorry for me when they were planning the banquet. I was standing around when they were scheduling teachers and they said "Hey, Mrs. Spencer, do you want to talk?" Really, I did, because I love it here and I like them and being included feels good. So I said "Sure!" and they didn't know how to politely say "But we were just trying to be nice..."

My point here is - well, first of all it's a warning to not extend invitations without really thinking them through. But beyond that, I want you to grasp how important it is to know yourself, and to seize opportunities that come your way.

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid, I would either corral my cousin into playing school or I would just bring out all my dolls and stuffed animals and set up a classroom. I used my grandpa's old ledger books to create rosters - I actually made up 28 first & last names for imaginary students (28 is my favorite number, and it seemed like a manageable class size). I could make up fake assignments all day - still can, frankly, ask some of my students who are in here...I did this for years. It turned into real school when my sister was old enough to start writing; I designed an hour by hour schedule of lessons during the summers until I left for college. It's amazing she still speaks to me, much less agrees to babysit my kids. She's probably secretly training them to rebel against me. But anyway, this was my favorite pasttime, yet when I went to college I was set on majoring in Psychology. And then Advertising. Because those things made money, my dad said, and teaching would never pay what I was worth. But I floundered in those subjects. Some of the classes were interesting, but none of them made me jump out of bed every morning. I kept signing up for more English classes, because I was good at them and even the ones with weird professors fascinated me. I started taking History classes, because the more period literature I read, the more I needed to find out what was going on in the world at the same time. Eventually I realized I could TEACH this stuff, and it would be fun. Once I took the step and declared my major as English & Secondary Education, I felt whole. Alive. This is what I was meant to do. That is a feeling I wish for everyone.

Now, before you start thinking this was all very easy for me, let me explain a little something. I was the typical good girl, A student, sometime National Honor Society member in high school. My freshman year at college, however, reflected anything but that image. I spent the following year in penance back home with my parents, working to pay for the time I wasted as well as earning back lost credits at community college. That was when I decided I would be a teacher, and I figured out everything I needed to do when I returned to the university. But when I got back, the education advisor looked over my transcripts and said if she were a parent, she wouldn't want me teaching her kids. She didn't want to recommend me into the program. I would not leave her office until I convinced her that my past was exactly that, and I would be a great teacher. And I decided then that I would seek students like me - the ones who might forget who they are and what they want if they don't get a little hand here and a shove there. This is what I do. As a substitute or as a regular classroom teacher, I try to know my students and encourage them to be who they are, do what they love, and if they don't know those things about themselves yet, I help them figure it out. Tonight, decide to know who you are, what you want, where you're going. I say "tonight" so you don't have to waste anyone's time & money like I did...Be smarter; go far; be happy. It feels good. Congratulations.