*mentally prepare, you’re in for a long one*
the last few days have been a whirl wind.
i had an interview on tuesday, and before the day had ended, i already received a phone call requesting more references.
on thursday, i was offered the position.
i had to take the evening to think about whether or not i would accept.
this whole job searching has been bittersweet.
i always knew i wanted to be a teacher. my siblings are 9 and 11 years younger than me. i loved helping them with homework and projects. reading books to them. “playing teacher” during the summer when we all stayed home together. going to their school plays and sporting events. when i was a senior, cadet teaching was offered, and i got to work with the art teacher. that sealed the deal. seeing those kiddos was the best part of my day.
then, before starting at iu, i decided to see a career counselor. i did not tell him what occupation i was interested in, because i wanted to hear what he had to say first. i figured it was better to pay a couple hundred dollars to see what i am good at, versus wasting a couple thousand dollars by being exploratory and undecided.
after a series of aptitude tests and a personal interview, he confirmed that i was meant to work with children, the younger the better. he suggested i go into early childhood education, and later in life go back to be a family counselor. sounded like an awesome plan to me.
at orientation, i told my advisor that i was on the four year plan. (meaning my parents were only paying for four years, and i intended to stick to the regimen!) i had a little bit of fun freshman year, got 2 c’s i think, but really recollected myself and stuck to the game plan for the remaining 3 years. while other people were lived off campus and had roommates, i stayed in a single in the dorm, and stayed focus.
senior year, while all of my friends got to sleep in until noon and take guitar or other blow off classes, i lived the life of a teacher. no sleep, no pay, and no social life.
i graduated with a 4.0 in my course work, and an overall 3.6 gpa. (remember those c’s i told you about?! lol)
i had a ton of field experience, a whole year of student teaching, i worked as a tutor, a nanny, a before and after school care provider, i mentored at a midway house, i volunteered at the boys and girls club…you name it, i probably did it.
i was always trying to be one step ahead. at thanksgiving break senior year, i already had an interview at an “academy” back home. i was offered the position, and accepted even before graduating. it was close to home, they were doing “major renovations” to the building, and the kids, teachers, and curriculum wowed me. i couldn’t wait. classmates were stressing about what to do after graduation, but i was set. i was going to be a preschool teacher. i was going to have my own classroom. it already had an ocean theme, and i had ideas for days. the possibilities were endless.
there was a job fair at iu before graduation. i decided to participate (even though i already had something lined up), but i am horrible at interviewing, and thought the more practice, the better. i crammed as many interviews into that one day as you could. i think they were 10 or 15 minutes apart. by the end, my head was spinning and i couldn’t remember one school from another. however, there was one that stood out. westfield washington schools. the principal loved me, and had me meet the head of hr on the spot to give him my info. he said his first grade teachers were going to love me as well, and couldn’t wait for me to meet them. he thought i would be a perfect addition to the team, and i would be hearing from him very soon.
and i did. he wanted me to come in asap to do a group interview with the teachers he had told me about. one problem…even though i had technically graduated, i still had a few more weeks of student teaching to complete (in bloomington), to fulfill my required hours. i told him i was not able to meet (in westfield) until i was done. he assured me that was more than ok, and there would be a second round of interviews that i could attend.
the second date he proposed happened to be the first day at my new job. now i was always raised to be professional, and responsible, and this being my first real gig, i did not want to jeopardize that or burn bridges by interviewing somewhere else instead. i regretfully declined, but begged and pleaded for just one more chance. i was in luck, there would be a third and final round of interviews and he wanted nothing more than for me to be there.
but i never got the chance. they found enough eligible applicants to fill all of their available positions before i even stepped foot in the door.
and the job i was so dedicated to…turned out to be crap! i ended up having 2-8 year olds all in the same room. we never had anything we needed. we never saw the owner. people were hired and quit faster than you could learn their last name. luckily i jumped ship before it eventually was shut down.
hindsight is 20/20. i graduated in 2007. it is now 2013, and have not had a “real” or “lead” teaching position. i have tried to reach out to that principal several times, but i have finally come to realize i missed the opportunity. if i could go back in time of course i would’ve found a way to make it work. and who knows, maybe now i would have been teaching for the past 6 years. perhaps i would be established, have lots of experience under my belt, and be happy and worry free. perhaps i might have done horribly at the interview and never been offered a position. perhaps i may have gotten the job and hated it too. maybe that job could have led to another job. i will never know, but i do know that i can’t keep beating myself up about it.
i truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and God’s plan for me is far bigger than anything i could ever imagine for myself.
however, it’s easy to say that, and a lot harder to believe it.
after leaving that first job, i was offered an instructional assistant job in the town where i graduated. i don’t call it my home town, because it is not. i turned down a permanent building substitute position for it (in my actual hometown)…but that only leads to a whole bunch more of “what if’s,” so i will not go there. at the end of that year, i did a very short maternity leave. it didn’t take long to realize how political the school was, and it’s not what you know, but who you know…so i didn’t waste any more time there.
let me just tell you that when you interview, it is with an hr person, and not a teacher or a principal. it is video taped, so that principals at other schools can view it too, and decide whether or not they even want to meet you. the interviewer is not allowed to give you feedback on your answers. he must always keep a straight face and not show emotion. he cannot ask you to explain, add more detail, or give examples. you must answer quickly, and concisely. you are scored similarly to the way a standardized test is scored. fail, pass, or exceeds. in order to be a teacher in that school district, you must received the exceptional score. if you simply pass, you can be an assistant, but never have a classroom of your own. you can never redo the interview. not even after a long period of time has passed. and also they do not tell you your score, so you could be stuck in limbo as an assistant, wondering if you will ever even be “good enough,” to be promoted. also, 4 or 5 surrounding districts decided to “team up” with this district and share the video tapes. so basically if you’re screwed once, you’re screwed several times. i have since interviewed with that principal at least once, but i think it goes without saying that i did not receive a position.
after that, i went to assist at a private school. i guess i figured that it would be different, but it was not. after assisting for 4 years? (jeez i can’t even remember now how long it was), i was passed up on for a few positions. they either let the teachers have an option to switch grades before opening the position, or hired outside people with 12 and 15 years of experience. how am i to compete with that? to get a teaching position, they want you to have experience, but if no one is willing to take a chance on you, how will you ever get experience?
every summer i applied at every school district within a 60 mile radius. i was that desperate to teach. i was willing to drive over an hour each way if that’s what it took. two summers ago was the most discouraging. i literally had 5 interviews with the same school, and did not get the position. why was my time wasted? why was i called in SO many times? was it really that hard to pick between me and another candidate that you had to talk with us each 4 more times?!
after that, i was over it. i was angry! at that point, i thought perhaps teaching isn’t in the cards for me after all. maybe i didn’t even want to teach anyway.
all my classmates were now teaching. getting married. having babies. and i was still assisting. a lot of my friends were complaining about how teaching (in public schools) was now all about teaching for the test, and being observed every day and not having a contract etc etc. even though teaching didn’t sound so glamorous, i still wasn’t doing it. at least they had that option.
i decided to take a year off and recoup. i looked into art therapy, school counseling, art education, and several other degrees. they all required at least 4 more years of schooling.
i had always worked part time at the hospital as a pharmacy tech. i went full time. i got trained in the chemo department. i made good money. but i was stressed every day. i was sad. i was angry. i wasn’t doing what i wanted to be doing. i wasn’t passionate about my job.
i decided that if i couldn’t get a traditional teaching job, in a traditional classroom, but i still wanted to work with kids, i should start exploring other options. i looked into first steps, head start, and a few other places. and that leads us to now.
when i worked at the private school, my first graders read at a 4th grade level. parents were fighting each other to come volunteer. the students had everything they wanted at their fingertips, and if we didn’t have it, we could get it.
now i will be working at a federally funded program for children who come from low income households. i will be begging parents to come help. my students will know that when they come to school they will get two meals each day. instead of school carnivals i will do home visits. it will be very different, but i honestly believe it will be challenging, yet rewarding. when i was a little skeptical about this still not being a “real” teaching job, my best friend told me this,
“don’t be negative about this opportunity. this will probably be one of the most meaningful and fulfilling jobs you have ever had. some of those kids have horrible role models, and need someone as positive as you to make an impact on their lives.”
i received quite a few other similar messages that really put things in perspective and made me feel good about the situation.
i put in my 2 weeks notice at the hospital. i was hoping to stay on there so i could still pick up hours over holiday breaks, summer break,on call, weekends if i wanted extra money, but at the current time, i don’t know if that’s going to be possible. i almost let that make me reconsider…
however, i need this. i can’t stay at the hospital forever, and this is the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door. even if i only stay here a year or two, at least i will finally have “lead experience.”
and like i said earlier, i believe God has led me to this. and you shouldn’t ask Him to guide your steps, if you are not willing to move your feet.
tomorrow, on my “day off” i am going to get finger printed, a background check, a tb test, a drug test, and a physical. i have already ordered an official transcript, and inquired how to apply for my permanent license. i work for the feds now, lol, so everything has to be official.
after a few days of training and observing, i will officially begin teaching on monday, november 11th, and although i’m a little nervous, i couldn’t be more excited.
i’m at a crossroads…nervous yet excited. of course i will keep you updated along the way. hopefully it will be more funny stories and awe inspiring moments than tears or stress.
thanks for all of the prayers, love, support, leads on jobs and kind words. it really means a lot to me, and has gotten me through a lot of tough times.
but enough of looking back and being bitter. here’s to the future, and it sure looks sweet! 🙂