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Becoming a Teacher

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Lisa McIntyre
February 6, 2013
Exploring Education as a Profession
Tiffany Trent
Becoming a Teacher I would love to write about how I wanted to become a teacher since I was ten years old, but it is not true. I just happened to get involved in a round-about-way. Having four children under the age of ten, going back to work was a necessity. I became a school nutritionist, also known as ‘lunch lady’. It was perfect hours, decent pay and summers off, what more could I ask for? On my second day, I met the special needs teacher, Jessica, who changed everything. She introduced me to her class which accommodated children with mild/moderate to severe disabilities. Every day they would come to lunch and I started doing small projects with them. I fell in love and wanted more. I wanted to become a teacher to work with these wonderful students. I continued working in the cafeteria for a few more years, all the while working with and learning about the special needs programs in our school system. Jessica constantly encouraged me to get my paraprofessional certificate. I was fearful to take a test; I do not like taking tests. She shared a quote from my now favorite educator/philosopher John Dewey, “The most important attitude that can be formed is that of the desire to go on learning.” Finally, I took the test, passed it, interviewed for a position and was offered a position in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) all in two weeks. I took that as my sign I was doing the right thing. Learning how these students absorbed information, what makes them tick and how to handle behaviors has been amazing, though challenging. I knew quickly that this is what I was destined to do with my life. Teaching and connecting with special needs students became my passion and with everything falling into place so quickly, I knew it was meant to be. Working as an assistant for three years just made me yearn for more. I wanted to learn more and do more, so here I am, going to college, later in life. I am so lucky to be able to work with my students as I get my degree. This decision has impacted my family greatly. I had to take on another job to make ends meet, so I am not at home as often as I would like and when I am, I have school work to complete. My family has been extremely supportive and understanding through this transition, again I am really lucky. Family and friends have told me how they admire my ability to balance it all. It proves to me and others that when you really want something, you can accomplish it. Since I have the opportunity to work in the position that I will eventually teach in, I am not only learning from an academically view point but kinesthetically as well. Having a better understanding of the data and behaviors that these students have and how to adapt curriculum or goals to help them master these skills is priceless. Our students are involved in Community Based Instruction (CBI’s). We take our students to stores to buy items on a list or a restaurant to encourage proper eating etiquette. Eventually some of our higher functioning students will have jobs at these businesses. Our GNETS program has a great relationship with the community that surrounds us. This is imperative for the students and community. Teaching others about special needs students is also very important. We encourage questions instead of strange looks or hurtful statements that spring from ignorance. Mainstreaming our students into society as well as the school systems will enable these students to transition more smoothly from school to community. Many get into education for different reasons, they are sons or daughters of former teachers. Others think education is solid career choice and then there are those who truly feel it is a calling. That is how I feel, it is my calling. Especially working with autistic students, every day is a new adventure, some good, some not, but always worth it in my eyes.
Being a teacher was not always a dream profession for me. Nonetheless, it found me or I found it. I love the challenge of the students; aligning standards to their abilities, overcoming or reducing behaviors and teaching them new skills. As Dennis Littky (2004, p. 1) explains his goals of educating children,
❊ be lifelong learners
❊ be passionate
❊ be ready to take risks
❊ be able to problem-solve and think critically
❊ be able to look at things differently
❊ be able to work independently and with others
❊ be creative
❊ care and want to give back to their community
❊ persevere
❊ have integrity and self-respect
❊ have moral courage
❊ be able to use the world around them well
❊ speak well, write well, read well, and work well with numbers
❊ truly enjoy their life and their work. My job is to teach the whole child, academically, physically and emotionally so one day they can become an integral part of our community and love learning, regardless of their age and ability.

References
Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support(1970). www.doe.k12.ga.us .
John Dewey quote. Retrieved on February 3, 2013 from www.brainyquotes.com.
Littky, Dennis(2004). The Big Picture : Education is Everyone’s Business. ASCD, Alexandria, VA.

References: Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support(1970). www.doe.k12.ga.us . John Dewey quote. Retrieved on February 3, 2013 from www.brainyquotes.com. Littky, Dennis(2004). The Big Picture : Education is Everyone’s Business. ASCD, Alexandria, VA.

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