Last Spring I left my job as a high school teacher. I honestly thought that was the end of my teaching career. I really did want to do something else. I wanted to have one of those normal jobs where you can take a day off without making sub plans… go to the restroom when you need to… do your work AT WORK rather than in the evenings or on the weekends so that you can present your work during your work hours. Well….
I have been asked to take on two sections of Advanced Reading and Writing in the Adult Education Program at Savannah Technical College. The courses are 9:00am and 10:30am Monday through Thursday. I agreed… what was I thinking?! I was enjoying my post-high school life of having the freedom to work from home or Panera or Starbucks or DD when I chose to. I just agreed to be in Savannah (mid-town) every morning 4 days a week?
I was supposed to start on Tuesday (1/21), but they were able to get me into the system sooner, so they asked me to jump in this past Thursday. The students have been without a regular instructor since they started this 8-week session on January 6, and they wanted me to get in there. Ok!
I arrived at STC on Thursday morning at 8:30, found a place to park, went in, met my supervisor and entered my classroom. Yep, I have a classroom again. The students came in gradually signing in and taking a seat (probably ones they have claimed since day one) at a computer. I was introduced to them. Aaaannnnnddddd…. GO!
I gathered the adults around me like I would have done with any class of students. They brought up their chairs, and we made a circle (well, more like an oval, but you get the idea). I told them they could ask me anything. I got the usual, “How long have you been teaching?” “Where are you from?” “Why did you move to Savannah?” Then I asked them why they were in the class.
These students are in the class to pass the GED Test. These folks do not have high school diplomas. Each one has a story. They are all ages and from all different backgrounds, but they all have the same goal. I asked them what they needed most from me. One student asked a question, then another, and another. I answered questions, provided examples, extended understanding, and helped them to make connections. As we talked, the students were returning to their desks, grabbing their notebooks, and writing things down. Some asked if they could take a photo of the board for their notes.
It was like riding a bike… no, wait… that would be difficult… this was easy. This felt right. These lovely people needed me. I had skills and knowledge that they needed to understand, and I am just the person to teach them. Not having a high school diploma has slammed doors in their faces for far too long. It’s time to open those doors. They have a goal, and it is now my goal to help them to cross that finish line.
I wanted to stand at the front of the room and shout, “I’m Baaaaaack!!!” But I think that might have scared them! They thanked me for being there. They thanked me for being willing to be their teacher.
Am I thrilled about driving to Savannah early Tuesday morning (tomorrow is a holiday)? Nope.
Am I excited to help these folks meet their goals? You betcha!