From Working as a Paraprofessional to Teaching with a Master's Degree and All the Steps In Between!

I never wanted to be a teacher. If you can believe that. In fact, I majored in just about everything else my university offered. But like a moth to a flame, something kept drawing me in, and I couldn't shake the feeling that it was what I was supposed to do. 

But then life happened.

My husband is also a teacher, and after he earned his degree, he accepted a job offer, and we moved two hours away from our hometown. This was way back in the day- before most schools offered a remote option. So I put my degree on hold to move to Birmingham, Alabama with my brand new husband. 

After moving two hours away from everything I had ever known, I was in desperate need of a job. I had previously worked at a private school teaching art classes and working in the afterschool program. My husband's school was in dire need of paraprofessionals for their special education department. He talked to the principal, the principal talked to me, and in October 2011, I was hired to work in the resource and inclusion settings at the local high school. 

And I loved it. 

My principal encouraged me to go back to school online. I began researching and found one that best fit my needs (and accepted my previous college credits) to allow me to finish my English degree. But then, once again...

Life happened.

In July of 2012, my husband and I found out we were going to be parents! It was a time filled with joy, but also a time where I knew I wouldn't be able to dedicate the necessary hours to completing a college degree. So again, I put my degree on hold. I continued to work as a paraprofessional, and in March 2013, our beautiful baby girl was born. And I was ready to restart my college journey.

It was such a struggle going back to school and work as a new mom. My daughter was five months old when I started back on my degree. Lots of assignments completed during nap time and late at night. And meanwhile, I was realizing that an English degree was not going to let me do what I now knew I really wanted to do- be a special education teacher. 

I completed my BA in English in July of 2015 and in January 2016, I began working on my Master's degree in Collaborative Education. I was able to do my student teaching as a paraprofessional, which was such a blessing. More late nights, more missed opportunities to hang out with friends- I worked all day and then studied all night after my daughter went to bed. But it was all worth it when I walked across the stage at my graduation in May 2018 and heard her little, five year old voice yell out, "You did it, Mommy!"

I began working as a special education resource teacher for kindergarten through third grades. One of the biggest issues I came across was a lack of connection for special education teachers. Often, we are one of a very few special education teachers at a school, and our needs and struggles are so specific, it can be hard to find that sense of community with other teachers at the school. So Lessons & Lattes (now Rebekah Poe Teaching) was born. I created an Instagram account where I could connect with and share ideas with other special education teacher from around the world. And the account grew exponentially with 10,000 followers joining the first 6 months, and 25,000 joining by the first year. four years later, I have an audience of over 112,000 people!

When talking to my audience, a few of the biggest "pain points" included being overwhelmed by data collection, a lack of appropriately accommodated resources, and needing ways to differentiate instruction for students of varying ability levels all within the same classroom. I wanted to help, so I started creating resources and providing tips for ALL teachers (not just special education teachers) who work with students with IEPs. In 2021, I started presenting those tips at education conferences both online and in person. Most people knew me as Lessons & Lattes, but didn't know my real name. So in September of 2022, I rebranded Lessons & Lattes to Rebekah Poe Teaching. 

Rebekah Poe Teaching is dedicated to bringing the best practices to educators, with ready-to-use activities and resources that are already accommodated or differentiated to meet the needs of all of learners. If you had told me over a decade ago that this is the path I was going to choose, I would have never believed you. But I am so thankful that this is where my life has brought me. It wasn't always easy, but it was always worth it. 

Thank you for joining me!

No comments

Post a Comment