My first year of teaching is done! (Okay, after our two half days next week.)
I’ve had a fantastic year. I don’t know how often is it that new teachers say that (I hope it’s often), but my year has been amazing. What I find most interesting is that I had no idea that teaching was the job I’d been after all along.
Since getting my Master’s, I applied for countless jobs in arts administration, education, arts leadership, music management, and arts programming. Until last May, I couldn’t apply for public school teaching jobs because I wasn’t qualified. I didn’t have a teacher training program behind me and I didn’t have my certification. Getting post-baccalaureate certification through an alternate route in Connecticut was difficult enough; I can’t imagine having done it in other states that seemed to have more convoluted programs. But after graduating from my program last year, I had everything I needed to be qualified for music teaching jobs in Connecticut!
How funny to think there was a short period where I was considering not getting certified. Because before beginning my program, I actually had gotten a job offer- my first since graduating!- in my field at a place very well suited for a composer. But my family convinced me that certification was the smarter move at that time, even though the job was also a unique and wonderful opportunity. It seemed just the thing that would have happened to me: a year and a half of frustration, only to become almost more frustrated when things finally began to work out for me.
Once I began my job this year, it became clear very quickly that this was what I had been looking for all along, I just didn’t know it. Part of that is because this particular job I have has several advantages to it, based on how the school/district operates. Not all music teachers have as much authority because they’re not the only music teachers in their school. Since PK-2 music classes are classified as Early Childhood, General Music begins in grade 3, which is where my duties begin: I teach all activities in grades 3-8. (One of my colleagues like to greet me with “Hello, Music Department!”) And being the only one, I have a lot of (admittedly, sometimes intimidating) decision-making power.
This job also allows me to incorporate my diverse content knowledge. My students have composed, learned solfege, seen a musical, studied recorder and xylophone, done some theory, and done multi-media projects with children’s books and found sounds.
And I get to be a director! Since I was about 12, I’ve always wanted to be a director, as evidenced through my unfinished but still ambitious converting of the movie Boys Town into a all-girls movie script for my, my sister, and my cousins. I direct all concerts and programs for my students because I am their only teacher. I decide the pieces, order, format, and programs. It’s a lot of work, but my personality and work style are a great fit for such duties.
If I had made a list of all the things I wanted in my dream job, I would have shaken my head at it, thinking such a job was impossible to find. No job has all of those things! Take some, leave the rest. Or work your way up to something with more responsibility and diversity. But teaching has it all for me! Had I figured this out earlier, I might have saved my self a lot of grief and self-doubt. But having waited and worked at odd jobs until last fall for this first real-world job has made it all the more wonderful. I appreciate it more, and I work all the harder.
Now, we’re on to summer, where I have something else planned that I’ve been waiting for for years! …