Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A Heart for Teaching

 As long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher and a mommy.   When I was a child, I tried to teach our dog to read.   Any given afternoon, you could find me at my little chalkboard, with my dolls lined up in a row.   When friends came over, I was the teacher and even sent them home with homework.   I used to decorate my room like a classroom, including changing my door decor according to the the holidays or seasons.

Some of my high school teachers were disappointed in my decision to go into education.  I remember one who just shook his head, and walked away, saying, "What a waste."  While at college, several English professors tried to lure me to the English department, but I was steadfast in my decision to teach.   Upon graduation, my first teaching job was a dream job, particularly well-suited for a wide-eyed, idealistic first-year teacher.   I taught Exploratory Math at a middle school in south Louisiana.   In my interview, the principal described the job as follows: "This is a brand new class.   There is no other class like it in the state.   I want every seventh grader to take this class in addition to their regular math class.   I want it to be fun, I don't want them to feel like they're in math class, and I want to see test scores go up.   There will be no textbooks for this class.   You will have to design the curriculum and find the resources to teach it."   I nearly floated out of the office, I was so excited!   For three years, I had a blast designing & teaching a manipulative-based program from scratch.   Then, we moved so my husband could do graduate study.   I was fortunate to have great experiences here in middle and elementary school before I decided to stay at home after my first child was born.

Over the past six years, though, I lost my heart for teaching.   There were three pregnancies, deaths, ...lots of life happening all around us.   This summer, though, my heart for teaching returned and I am so happy.   I'm ready to teach again.  We  have decided that instead of sending our children off to school so that I can go to work and teach other children,  I will just teach my own.    Let me explain. We are supporters of public schools.   We are not homeschooling because we are anti-public school.   They are a vital part of our country and it is through them that the majority of children will pass.   It is necessary that good public schools be available to create an educated and responsible citizenry.  There are incredible teachers in this area who are using great materials to teach thorough state objectives.   My husband sees it as part of his personal mission to help all children have access to a good education.  

We have several primary reasons for choosing to educate our children at home.   First and foremost, we are Catholic and we desire that our children have a Catholic education which integrates the faith and Church history into all aspects of their curriculum.   Accomplishing this through homeschooling is simply the most cost-effective method for us to do that.

Secondary to our faith, we want our children to be taught at a slower pace in which concepts, especially those in mathematics are taught thoroughly with the goal of true understanding, not just memorization.  For example, in mathematics, my curriculum is manipulative-based and paper and pencil are used to share and describe learning, not as the means to learn.     One of the major problems with math instruction in the U.S. is that students don't really understand concepts, but instead, learn rules or algorithms to get answers to written problems.   That works for a while in elementary school, but as they move toward pre-algebra and algebra itself, their mathematical foundation is exposed as being one built on sand.    Posts concerning math instruction and curriculum design will be numerous on this blog as I am a total curriculum nerd!
 
We believe every parent should be able to choose the schooling which works best for each of their children.   At this point, homeschooling is our choice, but we do not know what tomorrow holds.   Our children seem well-suited for instruction at home, but that may change as they get older.    We can see them attending school when they are in high school so they can participate in extra-curricular activities.

So, for us, school will begin September 7.   I always wanted to start school after Labor day and now I can.   I am busy organizing the house and working on my curriculum.   I am designing my own based on the state's objectives, or the TEKS.  I am so excited about our first real year of home schooling and I am very happy to have my teacher's heart back!

2 comments:

  1. It is wonderful that you are gifting your family with your passion and aptitude for teaching. I think it is so disappointing when educators discourage "smart" people from being teachers- isn't this totally backwards? We are actually very blessed this year to have a very well-educated Kinder teacher and I did a happy dance when we saw her name. It is exactly what K needs and we feel very blessed.
    Have a good last week of summer! Bittersweet, isn't it?

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  2. I remember being given homework by Teacher Terri, and always thought it neat that your door seemed more like a teacher's bulletin board than a door. One of Mama's fondest memories of you is seeing you line your dolls up to teach them.

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