From Para to Teacher: My Story

Categories: Fall

This is my story of going from a para to a teacher.

Well, my story is one I have been putting off telling for quite some time now. You see, this story is deeply personal, emotional, and challenging for me to retell but I am proud to be able to share it today because of this incredible platform and community that I am a part of.  My story of going from a paraprofessional to a teacher is one of happiness, sadness, letdowns, and immense personal growth.

 

The Path

This is my story of going from para to teacher.  I was a new mom and this is a photo of me with my son, Benjamin.

It was 2016, and I had just had my rainbow baby, Benjamin.  If you are unfamiliar with the term “Rainbow Baby”, it is a baby that is born after a loss of a pregnancy or infant.  I was the happiest I had ever been and so in love with being a mom.  My plans were to go back to work in August and apply for the Occupational Therapist program near me.  

At the time, I was on maternity leave from my job as a paraprofessional in the autism program I worked in.  The program had been through a lot by then and teachers were coming and going each year.  It was hard for the district to find consistent educators.  As an experienced para, I was often put with the new teachers – which had its difficulties.

One day, I decided to visit my school with Benjamin.  While I was visiting, I learned that two of the teachers who worked in my program were leaving and our program would need to find two new teachers, again.  Out of frustration, I said, “Maybe I will be the new teacher.”  I toyed with the idea for a couple of weeks – as I wasn’t certified to be a teacher.  I only had my Bachelor’s degree at the time and didn’t know if teaching was the career path I wanted.

Later, I decided it was going to be the best decision for my new family and began the steps necessary to be considered for the teaching position.  By July, I had officially been hired as a special education teacher and was told I would be teaching the kindergarten self-contained class at the school I was familiar with.

The Reality

Being hired as a teacher on an emergency credential meant that I needed to enroll in a credential program immediately.  This meant I was headed back to school while being a new mom and a new teacher.  My first session of the credentialing program went great and I felt confident that it was all going to be okay. And then back-to-school season began. 

Setting up my very own classroom for the first time was beyond overwhelming.  I was so incredibly lucky to have three of the most amazing friends and my mom there to help me set it up. My classroom finally came together and preservice days began. 

Now, going from para to teacher in the same program was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  There was nothing that could have prepared me for what this school year would bring. 

The Decline

Shortly after going from para to teacher, I found myself overwhelmed with motherhood, school, and being a new teacher.  I was sinking into depression.  I was not prepared for the workload that being a new teacher brought and I was also a new mom.  And to be honest, I hated the job.  I wanted to quit. 

To add, the program I worked in as a para was full of coworkers whom I highly respected and thought I had a strong bond with. But I was wrong.  Some things I said were misinterpreted, which led to some of those coworkers disliking me.  This was so hard for me at the time and I never got a chance to speak my truth, but that is okay.  I know my truth and I know I never meant to hurt anyone with my words.  I also know that I cannot control how people perceive my words.

My path from para to teacher was a long one.  I finally finished my credentialing and master’s program at the end of 2018.  This is where my healing finally started to take place.

The Recovery

It is now my eighth year as a teacher and mother.  Each year, I feel myself grow more and more and find myself becoming more at peace with my transition from para to teacher.  Now, I coach new teachers and I get to share my classroom with the world.  

My story of going from para to teacher is not perfect or easy – it is quite literally the most difficult time in my life.  But, I am thankful for the struggles, the hard work, and the depression. These led me to find my true self and my true friends. I also found all of you.  And I cannot imagine doing anything else other than teaching.

If you find yourself struggling on your path, I want you to remember that you can make it.  Take things one day at a time.  And if you need extra motivation today, read this post by me. Thanks for reading!

Michelle Lindenmuth, M.Ed.
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