I am a student who was formerly a teacher who was formerly a student, and there’s a high likelihood that I will once again be a teacher in the future. I understand why a student sometimes runs out of time to finish their homework and I also understand why it sometimes takes a teacher two (or three) weeks to return a graded test. It is only through seeing this relationship from both sides that I thoroughly understand the interaction between the two. This blog is my way to share what I’ve learned and to show how the insight I’ve gained affects me as I continue my education.
Being a teacher wasn’t my plan. I graduated high school in 2006 and left my home state of Florida to attend school out of state in North Carolina. My plan was always to be a veterinarian, but starting college introduced me to a world of education that I had never experienced. Gone were the days of being able to juggle every extracurricular that piqued my interest while still maintaining a 4.0 GPA. My college GPA was good, but not great, and that meant that my chances of being admitted to veterinary school were slim. The whole idea took on an aura of proverbial sour grapes. Why did I want to be a veterinarian anyway? Wasn’t I tired of school? Maybe I didn’t want to be a veterinarian after all.
My undergraduate college offers a program that enables students earning a bachelor degree in science or math to simultaneously complete the requirements for their high school teaching accreditation without extending the amount of time they are in school. This program became my new focus – the idea of having a marketable accreditation out of college was incredibly appealing when my other options seemed to be dwindling. Through this program I became licensed to teach any high school science course and I subsequently obtained a job teaching high school earth and environmental science.
An interesting point about the way our licensing system works: I had NEVER taken an earth science or environmental science course in high school or college. However, I was licensed to teach it because I had passed the exam for comprehensive science certification. So nevermind that I had a bachelor of science in biology and minors in chemistry and marine science – my school needed an earth science teacher and I was licensed to fill the bill. This is NOT an uncommon occurrence. In fact, of all the earth and environmental science teachers I’ve met, only one actually held a degree in environmental science.
Nevertheless, I found myself in a challenging circumstance. Not only did I need to lesson plan and grade with all the rest of the first year teachers, but I also had to teach myself the content of my course – ideally before I had to instruct my students (this didn’t always happen, but more on that later). This is unfortunately, again, not terribly uncommon in the experience of first-year teachers. However, this unique position would prove to fundamentally change my life. Entrenched in this constant state of increasing my understanding of the natural world around me, I came to remember how much I truly love learning. I had forgotten this at some point during my undergraduate career, as learning had become a fact-memorization process rather than an enjoyable endeavor.
I have now successfully secured admission to veterinary school. My childhood dream is alive and well, but fundamentally changed. Whereas I previously envisioned myself more or less as a James Herriot-style country vet, I am now anticipating my return to the classroom as a college professor and researcher.
This blog is about what it’s like to be in veterinary school, but it’s also about what it’s like to be a teacher in North Carolina. Most of all, it’s about the insight gained on one perspective by seeing it from the other side.