I enjoyed a conversation with a baby teacher recently that encouraged me is these uncertain times. She came to me with a video tape of one of her lessons that she needed copied to DVD. No problem. As she waited, and my students worked, we spoke of many things both educational and inspirational. Her ambition is to teach early elementary, perhaps even kindergarten (God bless her). She is focused on a suburban school in a needy area where she has already spent a few years subbing, and is currently student teaching. She spoke with passion and care for her students.
I asked about the mood among teachers looking for contracts in the current environment. Early the same morning I shared with some colleagues about the 4.2 billion, the impending budget cuts, furloughs, pay cuts, or perhaps even layoffs. Our district is encouraging (read pushing hard) for those both administrative, classified, and certificated who are even remotely close to thinking about retiring (anyone over 60) to heartily grasp a "golden handshake." The baby teacher shared her concern and explained that over half of her fellow teacher candidates in her cohort of the credential program had already left the university. Very sad.
The young teacher shared with me her passion for the school where she is currently a student teacher. She admires and appreciates the students, feels supported by the staff, and the principal has already hired her for a handful of long-term substitute assignments. It seems to me that, budget allowing, she is well aligned to be hired there when the opportunity arises. I remembered when I was offered my first teaching job at the campus where I still work. I felt like it was an honor and privilege just to be invited to take a seat at the table.
We spoke about the challenges of substitute teaching and value of her teaching credential program (she is participating in the same program at the same university that I attended way back when). Having learned all about classroom management through subbing, she is now focused on how best to deliver curriculum, how to juggle the standards, and how to develop appropriate relationships with the students. She shared her recent joy when a student that she was teaching experienced an “ah-ha” moment. We agreed that teaching is not only the most fun profession to choose, but also one of the most important.
Her boyfriend is also a teacher and has recently found employment in the district. The two plan on being a teacher couple, eventually getting married, and having a large family. It is so refreshing to hear about the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the young adults who dedicate themselves to the education of our children. Although we face turbulent times, I am confident that the teachers with an appropriate focus and attitude will endure the cuts in resources and continue to serve the students well. Our numbers may dwindle, but the internal fire that ignites teachers will never burn out.