I minored in education in college. I started on the teacher certification track, but I couldn’t make myself take micro economics. I signed up for micro every semester for my first three years of college. I went to the first class, left at the end of class, marched to the registrar’s office, and dropped it. Students couldn’t complete the teacher certification track without taking micro economics, so I eventually switched to a minor in education instead, saving the registrar and myself from unnecessary headaches. I didn’t realize at 20 years old that nearly a quarter of a century later I would get my teaching certification.
Becoming a high school teacher was a high entry threshold endeavor.
Because I hadn’t earned my certification as an undergraduate, I needed to earn an alternate route certification. Doing so required having earned a doctorate in my subject area. Fortunately for me, I met that qualification. In hindsight, however, taking micro economics as an undergraduate would have been a much quicker, easier, and cost-efficient undertaking. I don’t recommend anyone spend nine years working on a doctorate, while meandering through not one, not two, but three different dissertation chairs. Nevertheless, the dissertation journey enabled me to pass the first barrier to my certification.
Next came the Praxis – a complex set of examinations. I studied; I practiced; I passed (or as I like to reminisce – veni, vidi, vici).
Earning my Ph.D. in English and passing the Praxis, while the most difficult aspects of my alternate certification route journey, were the least painful parts. Well, earning my doctorate was painful at points, but that pain belongs to a separate process.
Next came months and months of administrative anguish. Months and months of submitting forms, waiting, resubmitting, calling, emailing, resubmitting, and on and on, until finally one day in February, I checked the state website and saw my teaching certification.
Through the years I had taught on the college level, which I knew differed from teaching high school. I also did some informal teaching aide sort of work in my mom’s high school classroom from time to time. And I talked with a lot of high school teachers. From those experiences, I went into teaching high school with no delusions about how difficult it would be. I knew it would be the hardest thing I had ever done.
I was right.
I sank, and I swam. I failed, and I learned. I wasn’t the best teacher my students could have had, but I also wasn’t the worst. I was myself, though, and I loved them hard. My love for my students got me through many rough days, and it got quite a few of them through as well.
Becoming a high school teacher was a high entry threshold endeavor. Incorporating reading and journaling as educator self care activities is not.
Journaling at its most basic requires something to write on and something to write with. Paper works just fine as something to write on. If you don’t have paper, you can use a cardboard box, a napkin – anything that will hold ink, graphite, or other writing medium. (I don’t recommend towels; they don’t work nearly as well as napkins – I particularly favor the brown paper napkins offered at fast-food establishments). A pen will do as something to write with. If you don’t have a pen, you can use a pencil, crayon, marker, chalk – anything that will mark your writing surface. You can get fancy and use a notebook or even a leather-bound journal. You can use special pens. You can type into a Word document; you can use an online journaling app. I have done all of these, but you don’t have to. To journal, you just need your thoughts, something to write with, and something to write on.
Reading is similarly simple. You need something to read. You can read online, on a device, or a physical product. You can even listen to audio. The world offers endless ways to consume text – newspapers, novels, cereal boxes, text books. I’m not here to judge your pleasure reading; I just want to encourage you to do it.
We’ve explored educators’ need for self care and discussed reading and journaling as viable avenues of self care. Reading and journaling have relieved my stress and restored my equilibrium, and I bet they can help you, too. Why not try them today? We’ll begin discussing the benefits of reading and journaling next.
I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early access to upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.
Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries. You can follow her at roshaundacade.com, lela-house.com, and on Teachable, Medium, Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram.