Last week I got a catalogue from an online teacher development program called Learners Edge. As I was perusing the catalogue to see if there might be a class or two I’d like to take during the summer I found a section that talked about getting a Masters of Education online. Apparently the Learners Edge programs are linked to several colleges and universities here in the western part of the US that are offering this option to both individuals who are already teaching (meaning they have a bachelors in education and are looking for a pay bump) and individuals like me that can’t seem to figure out what they want to do (meaning my bachelors is in something else entirely). I have all the prerequisites covered with the degree I already have and because I’m already working at the school as a teacher’s aid and a special ed. paraprofessional I have the resources at my fingertips to get in my experiential portion of the degree while I’m doing the course work at home.
So to put it quite simply I’m seriously considering doing it. It’s a 30 credit regiment that is put on the fast track and completed in 19 months starting in the summer and ending the following spring. There are three options for specialization, one of which is in special populations, which would probably be the one I’d do since I really do love working with these kids that need the extra help both in the areas of learning and coping with emotional distresses. I find it rewarding and challenging, yet I still come home at the end of the long day happy.
There are really only two things stopping me or at least making me hesitate,. The first is the expense of it all. Granted doing it this way is a heck of a lot cheaper than say going back to a brick and mortar school to get a Masters but its still $10,000 for the program which on my paycheck is really, really, really, really tight, but in the end I think it’d be worth it and would give me a lot more options for a career in the future regardless of what I choose to do. The second is that I’m just plan scared of going back to school. I know I shouldn’t be, especially if I’m doing everything from home, but still I feel like I’ve been out of the game a while and don’t know exactly how to get back into it. But are those reasons enough to stop me?
The other option I found while I was perusing this same catalogue was the possibility of getting a special populations certificate. Now if I did this I’d take 12 credits (9 of which would transfer over to the Masters program if I chose to do that later) with course work dealing specifically with autism, ADHD, emotional disturbances, and at risk youth in the school setting. Now while I think this would be great for me personally so that I could apply what I learn to the students I have now, I’m not sure what it would do for me in the long run since I’m not already a licensed teacher.
I keep telling myself I should be getting back to doing stuff in wildlife but really I’m having so much fun working in education and with these amazing kids that no one else is giving a chance that I wonder what my calling truly is. I’m so conflicted that my heart hurts over it. I worry that my family will think I’m copping out of what I went to school for for all those years. But really I started with a plan to go to Pharmacy school so I could have a fall back and a way to pay for Vet school. That didn’t work out. I hated pharmacy school and it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I switched to wildlife biology, which I loved and I’m gladded that’s what I got my degree in. But the jobs right now just aren’t there unless I want to travel all over the country for seasonal and temporary work right now. That’s no way to live and frankly I just don’t want to do it that way.
So here I sit at another crossroads and I need to figure out where my life is going and what path I’m going to choose. I need to make sure that no matter which I pick that I’m going to be happy with myself and able to live the kind of life I’m proud of. That seems like it should just be a simple thing to do but for some reason it feels very complex right now. I am giving myself a month to figure it out. The application for the Masters program and the special populations certification programs are both due on April 15th but I figure I need to have it sorted out by the end of February for my own peace of mind. Wish me luck.