Full Circle

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I played school from my first day of kindergarten until I was . . . way too old to be playing school. I never wavered in my desire to be in the front of the classroom.

Jo-Lynne “teaching” circa 1976

I went to college, majored in Elementary Education, and loved every moment of my student teaching assignments.

When I graduated, finding a job was not easy. I did some substitute teaching, I did some temporary office work, and I did a short stint as a preschool daycare teacher. Nothing was fulfilling, though. I almost gave up and took a long-term office job. Then, it happened.

Finally, after three years of doing odd jobs and wanting desperately to have my own classroom, I landed a job as a third grade teacher at a private Christian school in New Jersey. The pay rate was downright insulting, but I didn’t care. I happily drove over toll bridges and across state lines five days a week to that bright yellow classroom that was mine, all mine. Those two years teaching third grade were some of the happiest of my life — exhausting and draining but thoroughly fulfilling. I was in my element.

When we found out we were expecting our first baby, I knew that I wouldn’t return to teaching right away. The hours were too rigorous, the drive too far, and the pay too little to justify keeping my job. I was delighted to become a mama, but it was with a heavy heart and not just a few tears that I packed up my classroom that humid June day back in 1999. I placed those boxes full of books and other teaching paraphernalia in our attic, thinking that perhaps I would need them again some day.

Now I know that I will probably never open those boxes again. In fact, I’m not sure they even made it through The Move of 2005 — The Move that brought us to where we live today.

Three kids and six years after giving up my classroom, we started a new life in a new area — new neighborhood, new church, new schools. And for me? A new career path, although I had no idea at the time that the little online journal I started as a place to share our life with friends and family from afar would become so much more. I couldn’t have even imagined the possibilities I was creating when I opened that account on Windows Live Spaces in March of 2006 and jotted down my very first blog post.

Now it’s part journal, part lifestyle magazine, and full-time job. Or at least, it has provided me with enough projects to create a full-time job, even though not all of my work is directly blog-related at this point in time. (Although it probably could be!) This little space on the internet has brought me a horde of amazing opportunities and some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

And yesterday, it brought me full circle — right back to an elementary school classroom.

I drove to my kids’ school where I stood in front of three classrooms of sixth graders and shared with them what I do and how I got here.

They have all started blogs as a part of a class assignment (which I think is super cool) and are being encouraged to branch out and write about what interests them, in addition to the schoolwork that is part of the project. I shared how I got started and explained how the space has evolved, and then I talked to them about the importance of writing daily to develop their skills and hone their writer’s voice. I told them about some of the fun opportunities I’ve had and showed them pictures of celebrities that I’ve met. They were most impressed with Bullseye — the Target dog. Go figure!

It was exhilarating, terrifying, and so much fun. I loved answering their questions and hearing about what interests them. I hope I inspired at least a few of them to try out blogging. If not, at least I got a chance to be in front of a classroom again!

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13 thoughts on “Full Circle

  1. Thanks for sharing this, I always enjoy hearing people’s stories. (Is that grammar right? I’m never sure.) I have to ask. Do you happen to know what book you are reading in the picture. I’m 99.9% sure it’s the same book I have from my childhood. It was one of my favorites and it has become the same for my children. “Sleepy Time” by Gyo Fujikawa, I recognized the illustration. 🙂

  2. I found my first teaching job 2 years after graduating college, and it was at a private school. The pay was ridiculous, but I also didn’t care because I finally had my own classroom. I stayed there for 7 years until I had my 2nd child. It was difficult to find another teaching job, but after 2 years, I did. I know teach part-time because it was hard to teach full-time with 2 little ones. Now that they’re older (19 & 15), I’m ready for full-time, but I can’t get it-too many teacher lay-offs. Nowadays, teacher blogs are popping up all over. A friend of mine quit teaching and makes her living writing her blogs.

  3. What a fun opportunity to share about your new career in a way that brought back fond memories from your previous one. Definitely a full-circle moment.

    btw, hello! It’s been a while!

  4. I loved reading about your journey as a teacher, a mom and a blogger, and back again to teaching. Your story is so reflective of the varied paths that women can (need to) take as they move from one stage of their lives to another. You are a great example of how following our intuition and our passions can show us how resilient we can be as we meet the challenges of being true to ourselves and our families.

  5. Full circle is always fun 🙂

    Your experience with teaching runs pretty parallel to mine. After being told of the ‘impending teach shortage’, I graduated and didn’t land a job for 3 years (but did have some fantastically fun years of temping and doing office work). I had actually given up on finding one. But one actually found me, which was pretty cool.

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