The Career Change I Never Expected to Love

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Many moons ago when I started college career I had big dreams (don’t we all at 18?) of becoming a theatre teacher. I had adored my Dramatic Interpretation of Literature class in high school and I wanted to continue living that life as a career. I enrolled in the English Education program at my tiny liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere West Virginia and started studying Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the basics of how to be a teacher. 

One night while avoiding doing my assigned reading of The Canterbury Tales, my sorority sister (an the Elementary Education major) sat down next to me to work on her homework. It was some sort of construction paper creation that looked like a lot more fun than what I was doing. It was bright, colorful, and did not involve figuring out what The Miller’s Tale actually meant. Soon after I switched my major and dove head first into learning all I could to become an elementary school teacher. At the time this seemed to almost solely consist of keeping a strong portfolio without the opportunity to get real life experience to create said portfolio. 

During the spring break of my junior year I asked my mom (a teacher for her entire life) if I could spend the day with her in her class and present a lesson. Of course, she said yes. I remember working hard on a writing lesson about the Titanic to present to her small class of middle school students in inner city Cleveland. The details of how this lesson went are sketchy, but the memory that strongly sticks out almost 20 years later is that I crashed and burned. That was the day that I decided that teaching, in general, was NOT for me…heck KIDS might not be for me

I switched my major {again} to theatre as soon as I returned to school and spent the next 2.5 years learning monologues, scenes, set design, costume construction, stage management, and (possibly most important) interpersonal skills. My dream of being a teacher quickly transformed into becoming a stage actress and I was determined to make it happen.

Flash forward to 12 years after I graduated from college…I have officially used my degree once. 

In the past 12 years I have done everything from event planning, administrative assistant, bar tending, retail management, social media marketing, blogging, podcasting, and a LOT of volunteer work in elementary schools because of my 3 kids. All of these can be great jobs, but none of them have spoken to me as being my life-long career.

Last spring I was doing a lot of working from home and was looking for something a bit more pay consistent so I signed up to be an exam proctor in the middle and high schools. Essentially, I walked around making sure that students didn’t break the rules or cheat on their state exams. Much to my surprise I loved this. When the school year concluded I was offered the opportunity to become a substitute teacher. I was hesitant {because of my memories of that crash and burn lesson from college} but I signed up.

This was the best thing I could have done for myself. 

Over the past month I have taught kindergarten thru 5th, advanced 7th grade math, proctored high school exams, elementary PE, and elementary music. Even on the hardest days – like spending 7 hours in the Florida sun, a flipped desk, and having my classroom restroom clogged with paper towels – I have loved it and keep coming back for more. 

I entered subbing thinking that I would prefer primary (K-2) classrooms because I was scared of the upper level curriculum and Florida State Assessment (FSA) prep only to learn that I truly love teaching just that. I expected to HATE substitute teaching but it has actually made me decide that I want to utilize the pathway that Florida has set up for individuals with a college degree to gain their teaching certification.

Every day that I teach I can feel my mom LAUGHING at me because of how strongly I had run away from becoming a teacher only to end up back here years later. I think that it might boil down to the fact that at 21-22 I was not mature enough to be a teacher of even kindergartners, but now at 35 I feel ready to tackle almost any challenge…except middle school…those kids still terrify me.

How about you? Does your current job even closely reflect your college degree?

1 COMMENT

  1. I went to college for English (writing, specifically) with goals of being one of three things: a high school English teacher, a lawyer, or a journalist. I realized that I wouldn’t be a good teacher (no patience,) an internship at a law firm showed me that it also wasn’t my dream job, and the magazine and newspaper industry went through a big collapse in my junior year of college. So…I wound up being a program associate for 7 years across all different companies! Now I’m a new mom who wonders what her next job will someday be, and I have to say that being a substitute or proctor really appeals to me! I’m glad to have found this post, because it had given me a lot to think about!

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