The common thread
October 17, 2012 by
Categories: Self

I was in a high school classroom this morning and had a few minutes time to reflect and browse through young adult books on the shelf. As I walked around and talked to the students, it occurred to me that a common thread in my life and career revolves around education. In specific, working with students and in/around a classroom in some capacity. While this is obvious if I look at my work history, what is surprising is that working in a classroom was never one of my clear career goals. I looked to be a counselor, a therapist, a writer even, but never a teacher.

Since then, I have run a tutoring program, worked as a therapist in a middle school, and taught ESL for a few months in a classroom overseas. Throughout each experience, I recall a distinct sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from being in that environment. As a tutoring coordinator, I reveled setting up a Family Learning Center, creating lesson plans, organizing bookshelves, ordering books, and working with tutor/student pairs. Books are something I regard highly in my life and to introduce them to others is a great honor. While I was passionate about my work and believe  in the importance of literacy and involving the family, I largely was in this position as an in-between from college and starting graduate school. I didn’t think much more of it than as wonderful experience– I was looking ahead at gaining my degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

In graduate school, I was lucky enough to be partnered to work with a public middle school in the area. I went weekly and worked closely with small groups and individual students. Teaming up with the counselor, Youth Service Worker, and other teachers gave me a new perspective and soon enough going to the schools became one of the highlights of my week. I learned here that I felt strongly about working with adolescents and had a soft spot for them that made me work at my best.

My Students In Palestine

Afterwords, my path led me to teach ESL in Palestine where I taught all ages from fourth grade to college level classes. I continued to gain skills in the classroom, how to connect with students, and flesh out my strengths and challenges. As much as I enjoyed the experience,  teaching in that setting could often be difficult and I don’t know that I felt like it was my calling. However, it did become more clear to me that I had a strong sense of advocacy for those at an economic and societal disadvantage and I wanted to align that with my future work.

Fast forward back to today, and now I coach mentor-mentee pairs, run classroom sessions once a week, and coordinate events and programming for a flourishing non-profit.  Once again, I find myself surrounded by learning, growing, books, adolescents, listening, and teaching. I found a way to combine all the things I love to do in one field. This morning, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with the direction that life has taken me through, even though it was nothing as planned and I am not practicing as a therapist in the traditional sense.I shared this because I encourage you to look back and think about your common thread. What have you always felt passionate about that was not included in your job? What events or opportunities catch your eye and draw you in? Where do you feel the most confident and fulfilled? If where you are right now doesn’t have that common thread, it may be good to reflect on your path and future.

What you want to do or “be” may be more clear than you think.

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