This weekend I was packing up my 90s Spider-Man Animated Series action figures that I’m selling off as of this posting. When I thought about way back to 1994 when first started my collection when I returned to collecting comics for the first time in five years. You know twenty years ago, I wanted to be an actor. Yep, I wanted to star in blockbuster films or head to Broadway and entertain people but then at the end of my senior year of high school I was thinking about maybe going towards education then two things happened to me. The first was I had a student teacher who had taken over my English class due to my regular teacher out on maternity leave. She gave me a low grade on my group presentation on the Great Gatsby. Saying I didn’t do enough “regular book reporting.” I had studied the Charleston dance and talked about the history of the dance and taught the rest of my group to demonstrate. However, since I didn’t talk about the book enough while the rest of my group did, she gave me a B and the rest an A and as a result I just missed having an A for my senior year. The second was told by several teachers that they didn’t earn much. I later found out these same teachers were making 70K after working less then ten years. As a result, I went into theatre as planned but then after a year I was not treated well in the theatre department and thought switching majors to education. Sadly, I experienced a horrible Spanish teacher who wanted to fail me after only a week of class and I just said to myself: “Teachers are just miserable people.” With that I turned my back on education for almost a decade.
Many always ask me why after that long I decided to finally go into education when I returned to school and it was because of my brother. He had just finished high school and I just heard to many stories of teachers who not using current technology that was available to them in the classroom and the school had wasted money on it. The main reason was that no one trained them or even tried to figure it out. I did my research and I found out it was a growing trend and with the beginning of iPads in schools and other mobile technology I decided to go into Instructional Technology and the rest as we know is history. It was funny, even during my days of wanting to be a Hollywood star or attending the Academy Awards, I was always using technology. When I was 18, I was learning HTML and Photoshop to build my own personal webpages. I was using image searches on Yahoo to help with my reports in college while others were looking for hours in the library. I was even asking for friend’s PDAs and playing with them and putting tables on word documents. Even when I went into food service towards the end of my undergraduate, I was fixing my co-workers computers instead of waiting for IT to show up and do it. I even tried building my own talking robot in 2003 and got it to say: “Hello there.” Of course these days I use Makey Makey and Tickle.
To make my point, I could have entered education and been a computer teacher at 22 but I let the wrong people tell me it was not a good area to go into back in the late 90s and then I let some bad experiences make me believe it was not an area I would be happy in. Now, I look back and what I do and what I have to look forward to and its hard to believe I let those petty people cause such strife in my life for so many years. It is unfortunate that it took seeing my brother’s school’s poor use of technology to convince me to give it another shot after over a decade and I’m very happy I did. Despite the many odd jobs that I struggled through post college, I used all those experiences to shape who I am now and for the better. We get into this sense that we need to decided right away what we should be when we grow up and many are fortunate to know and excel in them from day one. While many of us struggle to figure out what we should do that makes us happy. It reminds me of something one of my principals told me happened to them that they regretted later. They were planning on getting their master’s earlier in life, pre-kids and they were convinced by their administration at the time that getting an advanced degree at that time was a waste of money and time. They believed them and then a few years later after having children and leaving the position realized that they should have listen to them. That they should have done it for themselves and not because of what others told them.
There is where we get caught many times and so do our students, we believe we should listen to other people’s dreams instead of what ours are. As the old saying goes: “If you don’t follow your dreams, someone else will make you live out theirs.” It was revealed years later to one of my former principals that their administrators jobs were in jeopardy and they were looking to be replaced from within and they discredited others from trying to seek out advance degrees in education. The student teacher I mentioned earlier I found out never really stayed in the field more than a couple of years and no one knows what happened to them afterwards. The Spanish teacher I also mentioned left due to several students complaining that they were a horrible teacher. Sadly proving, that I should never have let them influence my decisions because in the end they were mine to make and I didn’t make them. When we discourage people for the most pettiest reasons we rob those people of not only their futures but their self-esteem at the same time.
However, we don’t have to let it be the end of out story, many of us brush off this negativity and get right back on our feet and many of us, like myself, take time but we get on the path we always wanted to be on. I said a few years ago that I was meant to be a technology teacher and I love doing it and I love teaching and inspiring creativity and learning not only with my students but with my fellow teachers both in person and online. Its never too late to be what you want to be and its never to late to start over even when everyone else tells you to give up.