Lesson 1: Learning as I go


“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
~ E.L. Doctorow

I have no idea who E.L. Doctorow is, but no truer words have been said. For me, I replace the word “writing” with “teaching.” That’s what the last 6 months have been for me. Starting from nothing and learning as I go.


This is me, the Saturday before my first real teaching job. I was lucky. I received my preliminary California teaching credential on Jan. 11, 2018. The last day of my student teaching placement was Jan. 18. The first day of my long-term sub position was Jan. 19. I was stepping in to teach the whole second semester for a teacher on maternity leave.

Earning my credential was the culmination of a 5-year journey to become an English teacher after a 20-year writing career. I remember it was the last day of fifth grade for my son. He was off to middle school. I had spent the last 3 years as a volunteer art teacher through the Art in Action program at his elementary school. I taught pre-developed, curriculum-driven lessons. It was one day a month, but I loved it. It was more than just working in my son’s class. It was teaching about a grand master of art, demonstrating the techniques, and watching as my son and his classmates painted, drew, and molded works of art.

On that the last day of school, as I watched screaming elementary schoolers hurl water balloons at each other, my son’s fifth grade teacher turned to me and said: “You’re a natural. Have you ever thought of becoming a teacher?” The truth was, I had. But I was a freelance writer making pretty good money. Becoming a teacher would require returning to school, working as a student teacher for no pay, and passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers, aka the CSET. Then there was the final test: EdTPA – The mother of all unit plans. You will never do this ever as a teacher, yet you have to do it for the California Department of Education to grant you a piece of paper to teach.

Yet here I am, five years later. I followed that little voice in my head and the encouragement of my son’s teacher. Now, with credential in hand, I am ready to go and teach the minds of tomorrow. The blissful words of a new teacher …