Grad school!

My last post ended on a bit of a cliffhanger in which I announced I had decided to become a teacher and provided no further details. Welcome to the exciting conclusion!

I had spent months if not years looking for new job inspiration. When I finally found it, I wasted no time in researching the best option for getting my teaching license to teach high school English. There seemed to be two main program options for me since I already had a bachelor’s degree and didn’t want another one: a career switcher or a master’s degree.

The career switcher programs were aimed at people just like me who had already had one career and then decided to completely switch gears and become a teacher. But one of the biggest benefits, the speed in which you can get your license, was also one of my biggest concerns. Would I feel prepared to teach full-time after less than a year of education and less than a semester of student teaching? I decided no. After all, teaching was to be my new career for the foreseeable future, so rushing through the preparation didn’t seem like the way to go. Plus, having my master’s degree in addition to my teaching license couldn’t hurt.

There were only two real choices of master’s programs since I knew I wanted to stay in northern Virginia and go to the best quality school possible. In the end I chose George Mason University, even though it was slightly further away, because it seemed like the best program at the best value. They require all sorts of prerequisite classes in the subject matter you plan to teach before you even start the master’s program – that English major that I considered impractical in undergrad would have come in handy after all!

Within a month of first pondering the thought of being a teacher, I was enrolled in my first few prereq classes. Over the next six months I would take survey of American Lit, survey of British Lit, survey of World Lit, literature of science fiction, linguistics, and grammar, all offered by my neighborhood community college. Luckily all but the linguistics class could be taken online.

The literature classes were all awesome and reminded me just how much I love reading, dissecting, discussing, and writing about great literature. Of course the literature of science fiction class was by far the best thing ever; the moment when my professor referenced the Borg in a discussion of that week’s literature was the highlight of those six months and possibly my entire academic career.

Linguistics was somewhat interesting in that I had absolutely no prior knowledge of what exactly linguistics was, but annoying in that I actually had to, you know, go to class. For three hours a night, twice a week. And the grammar class was awful. So, so awful. Not because I’m bad at grammar – I’m good at grammar. But we had to do so little work, and even that was pitiful in its level of difficulty, that I felt scammed out of the $500 I paid for the class. There’s no way I spent more than four hours IN TOTAL doing work for the entire eight weeks. That’s less time than I spent in class in one week of linguistics. I guess I shouldn’t complain about not having to do work, but seriously. Give your subject matter some dignity, grammar professor.

Now I’m officially a grad student at Mason and that is a whole different animal. A big, fun, high-maintenance, fascinating, frustrating, inspiring animal. With teeth.

I am excited again. As soon as I’m done with class I want to call someone and tell them all the cool things we talked about (luckily my mom is just as fascinated by my tales from school as she was for the first 16 grades). I find myself with just as much to say and contribute in class on the subject of teaching as I once did in AP Lit. I lie awake at 1 a.m. unable to stop my brain from working on the lesson plan for my first day of class two years from now based on the reading I finished earlier that night.

Part of this excitement stems from the fact that I truly love learning in general, but I’m happy to realize that part of it comes from a true interest and passion for learning how to be a good teacher. If I had any lingering doubts about whether I would be interested in teaching, those are mostly gone now. Of course I still have some lingering fear that I won’t succeed at it, but at least I know I will be excited to try.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to freeze time so I can get all this reading done by tomorrow.


About The 1st Draft

I am a 30-something English teacher living in the Midwest who loves books, television, soccer, a good conversation, Cardinals baseball, and playing with my adorable nieces and nephews.
This entry was posted in Becoming a Teacher. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Grad school!

  1. unclelawwy says:

    I gotta say you Tate sisters never cease to amaze and delight me. This saga is a joy to read… Your mom and dad must be bursting with pride (some more)… especially your dad.

  2. Thomas Oates says:

    Love your enthusiasm! There may be hope for you after all.

    Briefer postings would provide you with more time to study.

    Congratulations on being a grad student.

    Tom and Gloria

  3. Jane Bales says:

    I am excited for you and your quest to teach English. I also have a degree
    In English. Although I only taught briefly, I continue to have a love
    Of the language. You are so bright that you will
    Will succeed with bells and whistles! Good luck and thanks for sharing
    This journey in a whole new world from when I studied!

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