Yet, the first day of school was unlike the dreams I had; not everyone was smiling, the students did not seem overly excited to meet their new teacher, and when I mentioned titles of various books and plays, i.e. Romeo and Juliet, I was often met with blank stares. The district was poor, transient, and always under scrutiny by those in the community (and the administration) who did not believe poor kids could achieve. Many students’ first priority was not their education; it was keeping the electricity and heat on at home, which meant skipping school to help care for younger siblings or not completing homework because of another interruption from Child and Youth Services. It was far from a fairytale, but it was my story and I would write the ending.
Our principals challenged us: believe in our students and they will succeed. My colleagues and I rose to the challenge. We created cross-curricular projects and activities; integrated pop culture into as many lessons as we could; provided hands-on experience whenever possible. Also? We cared. Things began to change. Class participation was on the rise. Student achievement was progressing. Kiddos came to my classroom just to say hi or, even better, ask questions about the previous night’s reading. Romeo and Juliet. Never before had I been so passionate about anything in my life.
Until I had kids.
The vision of a stay-at-home mom was never one I entertained, especially because my first true love was teaching, but the instant I held my first born in 2009, I knew what I had to do. I did not know if I was being selfish or ambitious, but what I did know was that I wanted to stay with my baby and maintain a connection to the world of education. I wanted the best of both worlds, and I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR I would have it! One night during a 2am marathon feeding session, I Googled “teach from home.” I found an online school, fired off an email with my résumé attached, and honestly forgot about it. Sleep deprivation will do that to ya. A week later, I took my very first conference call, an interview, and the following week, I gave my brick-and-mortar school district my notice. See ya, suckers. I was in I’m-making-my-dreams-come-true mode.
Today I am full-time, salaried online English instructor for a virtual school that affords me the invaluable opportunity to stay at home with my growing family. My first baby is almost 5-years-old, his little sister is 2.5, and their newest sibling is slated to arrive in April of next year. My life wouldn’t be possible if not for online schools and programs that allow professionals like myself to further our educations and careers. With the world of education in a state of flux these days, and online learning becoming the norm in many parts of the world, for the first time in my life, I am pretty cutting edge. I could never say that about fashion. Please avert your attention away from my drawstring sweatpants.
At the beginning of my virtual teaching career, I had but a handful of students and half a dozen other teachers in my department. Today? My roster has generously expanded, our department is comprised of half a dozen teachers from every state in the US, and I am confident in my job security. It is a blessing to keep one hand conducting an orchestra of our youth while the other is simultaneously changing diapers. I mean, it doesn’t always smell the greatest, but I wanted the best of both worlds and I got it.
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