In May 2022, I enrolled in an Alternative Licensure Program at Metropolitan State University – Denver. One of the other teachers at the school where I was a long term substitute and site clerk had been lovingly harassing me for a couple of years to get my teaching license because she could tell how much the classroom fit me. During the 21-22 school year, both my site coordinator and the school principal approached me about getting licensed because they’d like to give me my own classroom and my own classes but the rules said I needed a full license for them to be able to do that. I loved my job. I wanted to keep my job. And I’ve always been good at school, so I could handle both, right? Right?!
July 2022 my new class, ALP1, met for what they call summer seminar. It was supposed to be a week of class that prepared us for what to expect. They cut it down to two days (yay! Because parking in Denver is expensive and financial aid wasn’t a thing until August… and teachers don’t get paychecks over summer… eek!). I left summer seminar freaking out a bit. I didn’t fit. Nothing about the program was geared toward students who work in alternative education. For those new to my ramblings, I work at the greatest school ever to exist. We’re a program through the public school system for homeschoolers. We teach enrichment classes that meet once a week where our kids can make friends and do cool projects and learn nifty new things. The ALP1 program was definitely designed for people working within the public schools. Add to that the student sitting at my table wearing heavy perfume that set off my Meniere’s and a migraine, and I was ready to cry uncle after only two days. I asked the instructor for advice on how to navigate the differences between what was expected and what I teach, and she reacted as though I was making excuses. No relationship had been built. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know how invested I really was. I didn’t know she had a new boss and new rules she had to follow while teaching. Overall, it was a bad combo.
We started class the middle of August. Right out of the gate, we had to set up observations. A baseline. With the expectation that our classes would be mostly established at that point. Only my school starts later than everyone else’s and I only teach two days a week. You know what other teachers hear when you say you teach two days a week? That you have the nice cushy, easy job. I was a problem student from the start. But that was okay. My site coordinator, who is not only my boss but a woman I feel lucky to call my friend, told me to be beige. She is not beige. I am not beige. We are vibrant, colorful people who stand out in a crowd. She said it was her lesson for the beginning of the school year and it could be mine too. We’d practice blending in and not making waves. Let me tell you, that’s NOT easy for me! I talk WAY too much to be beige. But it was super helpful advice.
The semester was taxing, but I’d figured it out. My kids figured it out. We made observation days as fun as we could, even with someone watching us. I finished out the semester with a 4.0 and nailed my projects. I still didn’t feel like I was on track, because I was required to get creative to make what I do fit with almost everything that needed to be done, but I was passing and I was passing well… That’s important to me, which I’ll explain at the end.
Spring semester started with a bang. Our course load went from 10 credits Fall semester to 15 credits Spring semester (a full load at the college level is 12 credits). I’d only once over-loaded a semester, before my kid and when I was working part-time. That semester, I decided never to do that again! However, this wasn’t my decision. It’s one class, so you register for the one class and that’s the credits assigned to the one class. The problem wasn’t the credits, however. Our credits went up a bit, but our work load tripled (at least). The amount of work we had to do/turn in was overwhelming. I guess it’s important to note that, as a requirement for eligibility for our program, we had to be employed as teachers. So… on top of planning and writing curricula, now I had papers due almost weekly, in class assignments, reading assignments, a 5-7 week project (which was one semester long project broken up into three parts and part two was 5-7 weeks of lesson plans and data collection), data analysis… And all of that came on top of parenting, which is always my top priority. My kid started college in January, too. Helping him through his first semester meant a lot to me and I wasn’t willing to give that up for my own homework.
I figured I’d use Spring Break to catch up. I felt like I was drowning and I needed to work ahead enough to enjoy the rest of the semester. But before Spring Break even officially started (the weekend before we were off), I got the call that a friend had died. He’d been ill, but I didn’t realize that ill. I was still hoping for a treatment. It was a relationship I valued. One that made me feel supported in ways I hadn’t experienced from a religious leader in the past and one that meant a lot to me. The next day, I found out a man I’d known since I was twelve, that filled the role of uncle in my life, had passed. This one was sudden and completely unexpected. I didn’t handle any of it well. There were a lot of tears. A lot of ADHD paralysis, compounded by grief, and a sense of trudging through murky waters. Suffice it to say, I did not get ahead that week.
Somewhere around the end of March, right around Spring Break, I started counting weeks until graduation. A couple of weeks later, I started counting in number of classes I still had to attend. I’ve been to college a LOT and this was the hardest college experience I’d ever experienced. I’m good at college. I’ve been to three, graduated with degrees four times and completed certificate programs three times. Four now that I’ve finished ALP1. That’s eight college graduations. I’ve gone to school while giving birth… I’ve gone to school while having brain surgery (x3). I’m a bit of a perfectionist (haha a bit…) and grades have always been important to me. I get As because I require it of myself. Not to see the A, but to know that I have learned the material well enough to articulate it. This program was no different. I’ve graduated with honors or high honors every time and I wasn’t about to break that streak now.
I finished out the year on May 3. I ended with a 96.5%. As soon as the paperwork for end of semester is processed, I can apply for my license. It feels wonderful to start looking at next year and to know that I can teach those classes my way. A lot of fun out of your seat fun, that doesn’t translate to data points, but DOES translate to material learned. It’s been a rough year. I’ve lost contact with some people and feel like I’ve barely seen my family, but I’m done. I am set up for a future. I have a career (which is new for me). I’m grateful for the people who understood and stuck around, even when I didn’t communicate. I’m grateful for supportive family, who understood why I had to bail on social gatherings so often. I’m REALLY looking forward to spending time with people I care about this summer and doing something fun! I’M DONE!!!!!!!