This year I have had to take a long look at my career endeavors, and make some decisions as to how I wanted to live what I call my 3rd phase of life. Facing a layoff at the end of 2017, I found myself having to get back out into the marketplace, all the while not sure if I wanted to even stay in the same career. After 30 plus years in the same or similar field, I thought it might be time to try something different. A mid life career change is not the easiest thing in the world, and trying something new usually means financial implications as well. So any change I decided to make, I would have to do it gradually, and in an incremental phase. I have always enjoyed working with kids, and often fancy myself as a big kid, so over the Summer, I decided to get my substitute teaching credential, and check out the world of being a teacher. I have often been told that my flare for story telling, and attention to details would make me a good teacher, so I decided to follow that advice. Having spoken at Middle Schools the last couple of years, about the advantages of staying in school, I found myself being drawn to wanting to make a difference in the lives of the young. To instill in them that we live in a country where your dreams can become a reality, if you are willing to work hard towards them. A lesson that seemed to be cut out of the Millennial curriculum in favor of entitlements, for which we all pay the price for now. My own educational background, and demeanor would suggest that I would be most comfortable with teaching the upper grades of Middle and High School, but when you are just starting out, you take what you can get. So imagine my excitement when my first assignment that came in was for Kindergarten.
By now visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger were clearly in my head, as I headed for my first day. There have been many movies about Teachers & Schools, but on this day Kindergarten Cop was first and foremost. The teacher actually had everything very well laid out for me, but at this age level, it is all about keeping the kids busy and focused. There was no “quiet reading”, and “work on your homework” in this setting. It was all about singing, dancing, and ABC’s. As we sang the traditional favorites like BINGO, and danced the Twist, to which I did a killer John Travolta in Pulp fiction, I suddenly found myself saying “this isn’t so bad” But these youngsters were just getting warmed up, and I was getting tired out. Having small children in a classroom can be difficult because the level of learning and maturity is so varied, but there is one thing that children this age all seem to understand, and that is farting! During story time, one or possibly all of them decided to let loose, and we found ourselves laughing and holding our nose at the same time, as I continued to read “The Stone Soup”. Soon it was lunch time and recess, which is often accompanied by tattle time. I’m sure each classroom has the helper, the crier, and the tattler, and mine was no exception. The one moment I was so looking forward to from Kindergarten Cop was nap time, as I desperately needed a nap by 1:00p, but it was not to be. After I dismissed the kids at 2:40pm, I turned to look at the hurricane that came ashore in my class room, which took about an hour to clean up, and leave a daily report for the teacher. So I survived my first day of teaching, and I made 17 new friends in the process, not a bad days work.
I really can’t say at this point if this is the start of a new direction for me, but I will say making a difference to our future is a very rewarding feeling. Being a teacher is a very noble pursuit, and is often overlooked when societal importance is examined. But there really is no one closer to shaping our future than teachers. It is my hope to have the opportunity to experience older students as well, to see what are next generation will look like. As first days go, it was a little long, but given that I did not come home with a headache, I can only say “it’s not a tooma”