The past couple of weeks have been insanely busy for me. For those of you who don’t know, in addition to my full time job as a sheriff’s office spokesperson, full time job as husband and father, and part time volunteer for Florida Citizens for Science, I’m also attending college in my “free” time as I slowly work toward my ultimate goal of becoming a science teacher. It’s difficult to find time for work (which sometimes entails evening, weekend and holiday work), family, college and other pursuits (did I mention I just wrapped a summer season as YMCA basketball coach?), but I manage to get by somehow. College work really stacked up over the past few weeks, though, forcing me to take several days off from work to get it all caught up. There were several small projects and a couple of big research papers that completely drained all my brain power by the time I turned in the last assignment last night. It’s all done now! Onward to the next semester.
Over the past few years I’ve completed the basic stuff, of course, (history, math, literature, etc.) and then plowed through biology I & II, chemistry and natural sciences courses. With those behind me I finally started work on teacher prep classes like classroom management, diversity, testing, human development, etc. My next semester starting in September features some tough stuff: microbiology, anatomy and a science pedagogy course. And then in the semester beyond that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. During that semester I finally get a taste of the classroom as I do some observation projects and teach a few practice lessons. And then after that, which will be September of 2010, comes three months or so of student teaching. Yes, I am that close!
It’s so close that I had to take a couple of state certification exams already. Last week I took the four-hour-long basic skills exam consisting of general reading, writing and math. I aced that. Then a couple of days later I took my state biology certification exam. About halfway through the 120 question multiple-choice exam I panicked. I felt that I was going to bomb it! Rather than confidently picking out answers, I was taking educated guesses at best. I got more depressed, overwhelmed, and defeated the further along I went. Finally, I finished and got my “unofficial” results as I signed out. Pass! I was too much of test zombie to truly celebrate, but the state of Florida now says I’m qualified to teach Florida once I get that college degree in hand. How did I manage that?
But the truly scary part is yet to come. This time next year I will have a big decision to make. In order to enter student teaching I will have to quit my current job. For at least three months I will be without an income. Not only that, but I have to pay the college for my student teaching. With a family to support I have no idea how I’m going to manage that. Loss of pay includes loss of my decent medical benefits, too. Will I be forced to postpone the student teaching until I can better financially manage it? I don’t know. If any of you folks out there have suggestions, please lay them on me.
The next worry after that is finding a job. If I do start student teaching at the beginning of the school year, then will I be able to find a job with the school year already in progress? Even more important: are there any science teaching jobs here in the area where I live (Lake County and other neighboring counties) at all? There have been layoffs all over the place. What are the chances of a guy fresh out of college landing a job other veteran teachers are probably also fighting for?
So, on the one hand I’m feeling good about my accomplishments so far, and I’m looking forward to the advanced challenges coming up in the next semester. But beyond that things look rather gloomy. Anyone care to give me some advice and a pep talk? I’m all ears.