This is my six hundredth post since I first started blogging about teaching way, way, way back on October 14, 2010. I kind of wish that this post could have waited just a few more days, but we are close enough to the fourteenth and my three-year anniversary of being an educator blogger that I feel it is worth noting. I wish I had thought to start blogging about my experiences when I first started working as a substitute teacher in Champaign in 2008, but it wasn’t until two years later that a friend asked me what I actually did as a substitute and I had the thought to blog about it to share my adventures.
I admit that I had almost given up hope that I would ever get a full-time teaching job. I was working as a small business owner and a substitute teacher, enjoying the former and loving the latter, but also knowing that neither was enough. Then the economy took a turn for the worse, we ended up closing the business, and I started applying for every single teaching job in Illinois that I could find. (One site, K12JobSpot.com, was the single greatest find of my job-searching career!) I am certain that I had applied for well over 1,000 jobs that summer and interviewed as far away as RIchton Park (the southernmost suburb of Chicago) and as close as Champaign (where we lived at the time). It wasn’t until early August, just as school was getting ready to start for most people, that I had two interviews scheduled on the same day. The first was actually a second interview for a job in Urbana. The other was a first-round interview for a teaching position in Champaign. I remember leaving the first and thinking, “I would really, really, really like to teach at this school!” and I left the second thinking, “If they offer me the job I’ll take it, but I would really, really, really. really prefer to teach at that other school!”
Just as I walked in the door of my house, returning from that second interview, I got the phone call that quite literally changed my life. I was offered a job at Wiley, which I gratefully expected. (The other school sent me a letter three weeks later letting me know they had filled the position.) And thus my adventures as a fourth grade teacher began. That first year flew by. I loved what I was doing, felt overwhelmed more times than not, and had it confirmed time and again that being a fourth grade teacher really was my childhood dream come true. My second year also flew by. I can hardly believe that the students who were in my class that first year are now in middle school. (Several promised to come back and visit. None have. Yet.)
And now we are a week away from the end of the first quarter of my third year teaching full time, my sixth year teaching professionally, and my seventeenth year since I first started thinking of myself as a teacher. With all of these milestones, it seems almost anticlimactic that today was just another typical Thursday. But that’s part of what I love about my job. The other part is that no matter how routine it gets, my students always find a way to surprise me every day. (When discussing the story I am reading aloud right now, one student informed us that his mother is a “peach” because she is easily agitated when she thinks one of her children is in discomfort.)
We bid farewell to our U of I nursing student who has helped out in our room for the past six weeks, we revised one-paragraph responses to a story we read, we worked on multiplication, we discussed combinatorics, we learned more about Renaissance-era music, and we started learning background information about early European explorers. Tomorrow will be just another day in fourth grade, and the days ahead will see a steady progression toward the end of the year, but today is a special day for me because I get to have a lifetime of just-another-days.