I left the classroom but did not leave teaching. I have always had the passion to teach any age and anything. If I can share a personal experience or an educational concept I’m going to do it!
My second year teaching I was given the opportunity to attend the ASCD pre-K and kindergarten conference. Myself and five other teachers were given the opportunity to learn from other educators both near and far on a variety of topics. That is when my spark for public speaking began. I was impressed by the many different topics each educator had to offer which made it very difficult to choose each day. As the conference ended everyone was sent an email from the conference asking for educators who were interested in becoming speakers. How amazing, right? I quickly responded with a focus on journaling in the classroom.
My presentation was accepted and I attended the next year and spoke to more than forty educators. While standing at the front of the room I felt empowered, heard, understood, and respected. Someone wanted to hear what I wanted to say and share. As a classroom educator at the time, I like many other educators were rarely ever heard or taken seriously unless you were connected to the “right” people. Those that I stood before did not need to know my credentials, or how many committees I had been on, or even where I was from; they just wanted to learn from me.
I continued to speak at the conference and followed up two years later with an additional topic of “Not just in February” which focused on teaching black history year round. Even through the pandemic I recorded my session virtually and was still excited to share my passion with others.
Let’s fast forward to March 2021, I began to prepare for my exit out of the classroom. I just knew this was my last year and I needed to take a leap of faith. As I personally prepared I looked forward to the conference this year especially seeing as I planned to try to connect with other more popular speakers. My goal was to learn more about how they spoke as a career and not just a hobby, however it did not go as planned. Have you ever felt left out or you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle? That is exactly how I felt at the conference this year, I just couldn’t make a connection with those I spoke to as if it was a secret club or a special way to speak professionally. I remember sharing this with my career therapist later on that night of the conference, because I remember I was preparing to leave the classroom and how sad I was about not feeling heard by those who I thought were supposed to hear me. I left the conference disheartened and discouraged.
But I am here to remind you that what is for you is for you and no one can change that. In the month of May I received an email from the director of the conference inviting me to be a paid featured speaker in the conference the following year. Yes you heard right, a PAID speaker! I could not believe it, I was booked to speak on not one, not two, but three different topics and four different sessions. I spoke to over hundred educators this year about journaling, black history, and self care and received amazing words of encouragement and praise. Although I left the classroom, I did not leave teaching. I just do it in many more ways now.