How did I get here? Why do I teach? (Part I)

At a meeting this morning for mentors and mentees my principal had everyone share the story of how we got to our school, and why we were there. As always I kind of stumbled through my answer and once I sat back down and had time to think a fuller answer crystallized in my thoughts. As you might expect, the answer to these questions is complicated.

How did I get to a public school in the Bronx from Santa Rosa, California? Well it helped that I went to school in Philadelphia, and almost all of my best friends were moving to New York after graduation. That provided the first motivation.

When I found myself with no job prospects and graduation quickly approaching, I found another motivation. I had considered teaching for a while as a great way to gain life experience and put my youth and passion to work until I was ready for the "real world" (Can you imagine the naivete that envisions teaching as a transition to the real world?). So, I applied to Teaching Fellows, was accepted, thought about being a paralegal for a couple of weeks then settled back on teaching.

I pictured myself as a high school or middle school English or social studies teacher somewhere in Manhattan. I was assigned to teach elementary school in the Bronx. Hm. I didn't have time to dwell on it though as I was caught up in the whirlwind of pre-service training. My first interaction with 6th graders as a summer school teaching assistant assured me that middle school or high school would not have been the place for me.

Now it was August. School was a couple of weeks ago and I did not have a job. I attended a job fair, was offered a job on the spot my principal, which I accepted three days later. So, how did I get here? I suppose through a chain of hesitation, confusion and accidents that created a very fortuitous result. Thousands of miles from my hometown and comfortable upbringing, I find myself teaching fourth grade in a public school Bronx, and perhaps that's strange. But stranger, right now, I can't picture myself anywhere else.


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