I am a second grade teacher. This is my first year teaching and let’s just say, it has been extremely challenging yet also rewarding. My decision to become a teacher didn’t come lightly. I struggled after graduating college to find a job and then deciding whether it was what I wanted to do. It took lots of time, energy, and self reflection to make the decision but I am glad I did!
My journey started my senior year of college. I went to Indiana University. In my senior year of college, I had taken a class on child psychology. I also had an internship working with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I enjoyed both experiences so much. In 2015, I graduated from Indiana University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish.
After graduating college, I moved to New York City to be with my older sister. I also moved to New York City, unemployed and applying to every job I could! Within a few weeks, I had a job lined up to be a Technology Support Specialist at a school for children with special needs. I didn’t have any experience in technology but I saw the words children with special needs and took the job. Once I started, I realized I was in way over my head. I was helping service providers such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists use an online platform to input their session notes. I had no idea what I was doing and after a week, I hated it. I would walk past the classroom with the kids, longing to be in there, teaching and interacting with the kids. After three weeks and many, many tears, I decided to quit.
Once again, I was unemployed.
After some more tears and a lot of criticism for quitting my job so quickly, I decided to start applying for jobs again. But this time, I knew that I wanted to work directly with kids. I didn’t want to be in an office cubicle, hidden behind some walls, continuously checking my watch, waiting for work to be over. I applied for jobs such as a tutor, a nanny, and really anything with kids. Then, I found a job as a paraprofessional at a school for children with special needs. A paraprofessional is someone who works with one student at a school. They are there to help with behavior, school work, or health/medical needs. I applied and got an interview!
The interview was pretty quick. The director of the school asked me a few questions about my education and past experiences with children with special needs. Then, I spent 20 minutes inside one of the classrooms. I remember just doing some beads with a little boy. The director came back, asked the teacher how it went, then offered me the job.
I ended up working at this school for about 2 years. First, as a paraprofessional for a year, and then as a teaching assistant for a year. My first year was amazing. I was paired with a little boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He was so influential to me. We had an amazing bond and he changed my life. The most rewarding part was seeing his ability to communicate grow and flourish. My second year was more challenging. I had a difficult class with kids who had a wide range of disabilities. Along with that, now I was working with nine kids instead of one.
Even though these experiences were completely different, they both helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life. I got to see the rewarding side of working with kids and the challenging side. But most importantly, these experiences showed me how when you put in the hard work and persistence, you see immense growth. I decided to apply to graduate school in education and become a teacher.
I am going to be writing a post all about graduate school, including how and why I chose NYU and lots of information about the program! Stay tuned for that!
While everybody’s journey is unique, I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay if you graduate college not knowing what you need to do. It’s okay to take some time to figure things out. Do what’s best for you and you will figure it out!!