Guest blogger Christopher Schlee teaches technology education at Monocacy Middle. Principal Dr. Stephanie Ware says, “It’s amazing to watch collaboration between those traditionally trained to teach and those who enter from a different educational path. The problem solving and discussions they have are richer, thanks to their varying experiences. It’s a win-win for all involved, and the experiences provided to our students are more engaging because of it.”
My name is Chris Schlee, and I am a career-changer. This may sound like a confession in some type of support group, but in reality it reflects one of the best decisions I have ever made. After 25 years of chasing work in the landscape business, I needed a change. I really wanted to be one of those people who love their job, someone whose passion for what they do drives them in a direction that brings them joy and can have a positive impact on others. I found that calling in becoming a teacher.
Five years ago, the company for which I had worked 25 years was going through some changes. Work had become routine, almost automatic. Inspired by a close friend who had just changed careers to become a teacher, I decided it was time for me to take the plunge and pursue another career. I spent time evaluating what careers could fulfill my aspirations, and I realized some of the most satisfying times in my life occurred when I was coaching. Throughout the years, I had always volunteered to help coach my sons’ various sports teams, and I really appreciated the impact a person could have on children through sports. It became clear that as a teacher one could have this opportunity every day!
So, the decision was made, and I thought, Now where do I start? Not having a teaching degree, I followed the path my friend took and enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Mount St. Mary’s University. It was a perfect fit for someone changing careers. I could attend classes in the evening and in a relatively short time earn a Master’s and teaching certification. I decided I needed to get in the classroom as soon as possible and was fortunate to be hired as a special education instructional assistant at Oakdale Middle School. I was on my way to becoming an educator!
I took my first teaching job, and teaching at Monocacy Middle the past three years I could not be happier. It has been challenging, but I realized the same mindset I developed in coaching applies in the classroom. Relationships are what fueled my drive as a coach and have been the most satisfying component of being a teacher. I’ve quickly learned that getting to know your students--how they learn, and what drives them--is key to supporting them in the classroom. Making these connections, with not only my students but also the ones I don’t teach but see daily, has made me realize I made the right decision in becoming a teacher.
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