Not Just a Job

One of my jobs these days is tutoring student athletes. I took it for a number of reasons; I need the money, it looks good on resume/CV, it has flexible hours - but mostly it was for the money; the Pontifex Niger got to get paid. I am as poor as a church mouse these days, and not one of those non-denominational megachurches, either. Tutoring pays the least of my three jobs, but to my surprise, it's the best job I've had in a long time.

The students are all struggling to balance school with major sports commitments. They lift weights, they practice, they go to therapy for injuries, they watch game films, they attend meetings - and THEN they go do their homework. On the weekends they have games, so they often travel extensively. They are almost universally exhausted, and frequently they are not the most serious or attentive students.

Despite that, I really look forward to working with them. I have always enjoyed teaching, but this is a unique challenge. Usually, they come to see me because they are struggling in a subject. Most often it's Sociology, but I'm also helping some with Women's Studies, English Comp., and general academic writing. Their scholarships sometimes hang in the balance, so it's very rewarding for both of us when their grades begin to improve. Once they have a little taste of success, they start coming to tutoring sessions with more eagerness. They begin to see that they can master the material, and they start to see themselves differently. Many believe that they're "just an athlete," but once they begin to see Bs and As on their work they start to believe they can graduate. That kind of energy is infectious - even after putting in 12 hour days with them, I come home in a good mood.

The job is not without its frustrations, though. I am struck by how poorly some of them were prepared by their high schools - and not just high schools in the U.S. We like to bitch about the failings of the American education system, but I've seen international students who were no better off. It's easy to see that the battle between sports and academics began for most of them many years before they arrived at Black Vatican U. They need help now because someone years ago made the decision to let them slide, to pass them and let them just be jocks. It angers me, but I try to turn that anger into the energy to help them be better students.

This is just the latest in a long line of revelations that have pushed me to make some new choices. My exposure to the work of Jonathan Kozol, meeting Bill Ayers and hearing him speak, knowing Education majors like Mandy, G-Fresh, and SciFi Heroine, meeting all the candidates for State Superintendent during campaign events this year, and now this job - it's all pushing me toward Education as a career. Yes, I still want a PhD, but I think I have more to add to the field of Education than I ever would contribute to Sociology.

I have an appointment with a counselor in the College of Education next Wednesday. I'm looking into the Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program, to see how long it will take - I am still planning on leaving this town before next fall. If it can be done in that timeframe, I'm off to Financial Aid to see if I can afford it.

5 comments:

Sci Fi Heroine said...

Yay! You are an amazing teacher, love, and I really think that, Ph.D. or not, you'll enjoy education. Maybe not the College of Ed so much...but it'll be worth it.

Amber said...

Do you need a certification before you can teach? I don't know about Wyoming, but in CA, all you need to do is pass the state test. I imagine you're more than qualified to do that now.

His Sinfulness said...

It's true - you only need to pass the test, but it is difficult to get a permanent job without the certification. Alas, we live in a credentialist society...

Mayren said...

For what it's worth - I can completely picture you as a teacher/Prof. I think you'd be good at it too. (hug)

His Sinfulness said...

Thanks, Mayren. This is just one option - the other is a PhD in Education... we'll just have to see. :)

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