Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm teaching high school in the fall!

Next week marks the last week of summer classes at Tulsa Community College!  I'm exhausted from the two calculus courses I've taught, but I also feel that I've learned so much through these 8-week courses.  As usual, I entered the classes ready to transmit what I find to be absolutely amazing and beautiful knowledge.  And, as usual, I forgot that the best part about teaching isn't helping others learn.  The best part about teaching is that you--as a teacher--continue to learn.  I love that.  I don't think there's any other job in the world where continuing ed is so easy to come by.

Some (non-math) things I've learned this summer:

  • I really like teaching adults.  While they may not be up-to-date on technology, they really appreciate good teachers.  And they tell you that.  (I really like to feel appreciated, if you haven't gathered that already.)
  • Three hours of straight lecturing is really painful.  Literally.  It really hurts to look up at a white board for that long.  Remember, I'm short:  to reach the top of the whiteboard sometimes I have to stretch my neck so far that the back of my head touches my back.  It hurts after a while.  The answer to this mess:  more activities, fewer lectures.  Wish I could say I got there this semester.
  • Having a husband who is really smart and has taken calculus before is the best ever.  Why?  Because he can make handouts for your students while you grade.  True story, guys.  True story.
So, I've had a great time teaching these classes this summer.  However, as it turns out, I will be taking a little break from the college scene this fall.

This last school year I taught TCC College Algebra classes to high school juniors and seniors at Union High School, which is a public school here in Tulsa (though it is independent of Tulsa Public Schools, I should point out).  I really loved my job.  I felt like I got the students and the students got me.  It was just a good fit.

While I was teaching this year, I also started the process of becoming alternatively certified to teach math at the high school level (since neither of my degrees are in education).  Honestly, I was not seeking certification to actually teach high school students in America, as ironic as that may sound.  I just thought it'd be good if I ever wanted to pursue more education and certainly necessary if I ever wanted to teach at a high-performing school overseas.

However, I made some great friends at Union, and once they found out I was certified, they encouraged me to interview for a high school math position.  "Just go through the interview process.  It will be good for you to get a feel of what kinds of questions they ask."

"Sure," I thought.  "That can't hurt."

I'm not sure what happened between that thought and the interview.  I do know the principal was quite convincing when I sat down to talk to her.  And the next thing I knew she was saying, "We want to make you a Redskin.  Welcome to Union High School!" (Yeah...we can talk about their choice of mascot later.  We live in Oklahoma.  What can I say?)

Brett and I took some time to think about it, and I soon decided that Union would be a good fit for me next year.  There are a lot of things I will miss from teaching college students, but I feel like there's a lot I will gain by being around 17- and 18-year-olds all day.  All.  Day.

The college has asked me to stay on as adjunct, which I plan on doing.  However, I also plan on taking the fall semester off to focus solely on my high school commitments. 

I wrote more about the reasons behind this decision here, if you're interested.  The main reason though is--Union is where I think I can grow the most and--hopefully--help others grow, too.

Much love to all of you!  We hope that, wherever you may be, you are staying cool and refreshed through the God-given blessing we call air conditioning.

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