I am a general education teacher. I currently teaching a fourth and fifth grade mixed class. I worked extremely hard to get this teaching position. I knew I wanted to teach, and I specifically wanted upper elementary level - fifth grade, in particular. This is my second career. I did not have a degree in education or much public school experience, so I decided to go back to college for an Extended Teacher Education Program. I did this through the University of Southern Maine.
When I "graduated" from this program, I immediately began applying for teaching jobs. There was one job I really wanted in a town near mine. It was a small school and they needed a fifth grade teacher. It reminded me of the town I grew up in. I researched that school before sending in my application. I searched their website and spoke to people who had any experience there. I catered my cover letter to them specifically. It worked! They asked me to an interview. It was the only interview I had been asked to, at this point.
I prepared by printing off 1,000 teaching interview questions and practicing with a teacher friend. This was my dream job. I familiarized myself with my portfolio and knew exactly where to find things if asked for examples.
I nailed the interview. I knew it while I was there. There were at least 10 staff members and one parent in on the interview at one time. There were two administrators. It was nerve-wracking. They asked some difficult questions about behavior management, and my core beliefs. The questions made me want the job even more. I could tell the administration and staff were thoughtful and believed what I did about education.
I got the call that evening. They loved my portfolio and the attention I had put into their school and my application. They felt the same "connection" I had in the interview. I got the job and have felt blessed since! I'm still in that position and love teaching my students, love the age, love my school and the community.
I have two young children and I do "have it all." I have a job I absolutely love and feel like I'm making a difference in, I have two children I love being with and seeing grow, and I have the support of an amazing husband I love being with who takes care of things at home and gives me breaks when he sees I need them.
It's not perfect all of the time--my house can be a mess and we don't live in a million-dollar home, but we are content and feeling good about life. I'm grateful that my job allows me to see my family a lot and I have time to do things like coach tee-ball and such. Personally, I really enjoy working. I understand moms who want to stay at home with their children, but I really love getting out of the home each day and sharing around the dinner table all of the different, fun things we experienced that day. I also get to be a stay at home mom for the summer.
Find something that speaks to you and resonates within you. I absolutely love what I do and don't mind leaving each day and doing some extra work at home if it's what I enjoy. I don't give parents my home/cell phone number though, because my home time is my time. Parents have my e-mail and the school phone. If they have an issue, I get back to them as soon as I can, but I do have boundaries. This helps me balance home and work life.
Choose a career in which you can keep that balance. Something that mattered to me were the hours I'd be working. I love being home for dinner each night and having the summers with my kids. It works for us. Find something that works for you.
My biggest success is having routines that help us navigate our day. My children at the young ages of 5 and 3 know our morning routine and are, many times, ready before I am to go to work and school. They don't fight bedtime. They know the evening routine. Some things change within the routine (play a board game instead of watch a short TV show before book time), but they go to bed the same time each night and they know what to expect. My biggest challenge is getting some work done at home when I want to be playing with the kids. Many times I skip my "homework" until they are in bed, and I end up staying up very late to finish everything. Having children has changed my teaching style (and sometimes for the better). I do much more during school hours now than ever before. I don't put things off, but do them in the moment, so I don't have to bring much home. It's still a challenge though. Another challenge is fitting in my gym time. I wake up at 5:00 to go to the gym every day. My husband is a rock star in the morning and when I come home, the kids are awake and moving through their routine. It is working now, but it's ever-changing and you have to be flexible enough to roll with it.
My favorite quote that I repeat to myself all the time is, "You will never regret spending too much time with your child." Sometimes I just cry thinking of my munchkins growing up, but when I spend time with them, I feel better about it. I've soaked up as much as I can and they are growing into little independent beings that I enjoy being with and can be proud
I admire and love my mom so much. She puts others needs before her own, and has been a constant support and steady force my entire life. She doesn't hover and micro-manage my life, but leads by quiet example. She directs and teaches in a preschool, and I remember helping her cut out shapes and tweak lessons after dinner. Her job was one we shared as a family. My mom was at every single sports event my brother and I participated in, she planned amazing vacations on a low budget (preparing a huge cooler to travel with instead of eating at restaurants, and tenting across America!), spent long hours at the dinner table helping my brother and I with homework, and not only beat cancer but then started a support group for other women after she really struggled with decisions and fear through the whole process. She has taught me so much, but one of the biggest lessons I've learned is sometimes you have to let go and be patient. She is very Irish, and my mom has taught me that you can fix any problem with a walk through the woods and a hot cup of tea.