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Musings and Meanderings

Friday, September 16, 2005

Why I want to Substitute

an essay submitted to the School Districts with my applications


Attached is my application for substitute teacher in your school district. Hopefully I have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.

Essay questions were always my favorite part of any test. No really.

You have asked me basically why I wish to substitute. Specifically you have asked for me to outline some of my goals, aspirations and philosophy of teaching, and any special experience that I will bring to the classroom.

But no doubt you have also looked over my application and realized I have not one minute of teaching experience. Not one hour of post BA classroom setting after I graduated from Pitzer. Consequently I cannot provide a list of anyone under whom I have taught, although I have provided a short list of people who can attest to my good character and work ethic from other fields.

So why would you then allow me to, even if briefly, affect the minds and attitudes of the next generation?

For me the answer is simple. I was born to teach. However, for the last 20 years I have been in the private sector in sales and management. What sort of experience have I gathered in those 20 years that can apply to the classroom?

Certainly there are techniques in both time and human management that will apply neatly in the classroom. Many hours teaching sales techniques and seminars have given me a background in speaking to a large group, be it adults or children. My extra curricular activities as a coach for Lansingburgh AYSO soccer and an assistant scoutmaster for our local Boy Scout troop have shown me how different working with children is than with adults. 20+ years of Public Speaking, be it in a one to one at home sale, presentation to a board of directors, or the local soccer team has developed my skills to keep the audience interested.

This year I stepped off that treadmill and decided to re-evaluate what impact I am having on the community, and the future. I don’t know how often you have had a prospective candidate tell you this: but for years now my friends, close co-workers and family have said to me: “Mike you should be teaching”. So I wish to try. Should I find that this difficult yet rewarding job is something I take to, I aspire to go forward and get my credentials and then my Masters.

We all had teachers that inspired us in our past. And we have all had teachers that we disliked for one reason or another. I think the difference between the two comes down to passion. One thing I have is an abiding passion for teaching. In my professional career I have nearly always taken training responsibility when asked or required. My time as a coach and assistant scoutmaster are all about teaching the skills unique to each field.

Passion for inspiring the minds of the next generation is so important. Teaching those minds how to be analytical and focused while still being creative is the foremost challenge to our society today. Perhaps there is a post graduate class in the “philosophy of teaching” and various schools of thought that I am not aware of. For me however this is what it boils down to. Be passionate. Inspire minds. Work with the high achievers and slow starters in equal effort.

Now I realize that all this sounds a bit starry eyed, and in today’s environment of No Child Left Behind and aptitude tests it may seem far fetched. But I do believe that this type of thinking can enliven any classroom. Studies have shown again and again that a lively classroom is a successful classroom. For the day, or the week that I am allowed to sit with your children and move them along in their lessons, I will bring this philosophy to life as best I can.

So what can I teach? Well anything barring HS level Calculus really. However most of my areas of study have been in the social sciences. I have a double BA in Psychology and Economics from Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges. My avocation is reading American and European History, as well as other literature. All my life I have been an avid reader. Most of all though I feel I have a sharp keen mind and can ably pick up midstream any classroom lesson and bring them along for the day or week. Most importantly not leave them in a heap for the regular teacher to walk in on the next day.

I realize that this small essay is much more than you asked for on your application, but with absolutely zero in class experience, I felt that this might open the door to further interviews and more importantly the opportunity to be invited to the classroom to substitute.
posted by Mike 1:24 PM

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The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind