Sunday, November 28, 2004

All in the Family

My mom is going back to teaching.

A bit of history:

My mom taught English before I was born, mostly at the high school level, although she did teach younger students for a few months at a development project school in Algeria. My father also started out in teaching. He taught math and science. During my childhood, my mom was a stay-at-home-mom and community activist, and my dad was an elementary school principal. Then when I was in high school, my mom got frustrated, because she could have done so many more things for our town and county, but she didn't have the right degree. So she went back to school and got her master's in public policy and then got a job at the county planning commission. It was rough having her gone several days a week - she commuted to my grandmother's house in Maine to attend school there - but ultimately helped me understand that you are never, ever trapped in your life. I feel very lucky to have seen my mom and several other women whom I respected make major changes - quitting jobs, changing jobs, going back to school, etc. - fairly late in life.

Anyway, a few months ago, she was laid off from the county planning commission because she was paid by grants and grants have been drying up over the last few years. That was frustrating, because there just aren't that many jobs in her field in the area where she lives, which is all small towns.

She wasn't planning on going back to teaching. Her "lifetime" credential is very close to expiring for good if she doesn't take some courses this spring. But a friend who works at the middle school in a nearby town mentioned that the English teacher is retiring in December and the school is looking for someone to replace him for the rest of the year, with the possibility of continuing next year if things go well. Mom applied, and she found out on Wednesday that she got the job! She'll start by observing his classes and working with him for the first two weeks of December, and then in mid-December, when he retires, she'll take over his classes.

So, she wanted advice about teaching middle school, kids these days, etc. I gave her what advice I could, plus the name and number of a colleague who I think can provide subject area advice. I said to set up some way to meet parents before grading time, since inevitably, some kids will not get the same grades with her that they got with their previous teacher, and it's best if the parents are comfortable with her before that happens. I reminded her that kids at that age are obsessed with fairness and justice - in the world and in their own lives. Etc. etc.

This should be interesting!

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