Friday, August 8, 2008


The interview went dandy today. It was more of a screening that could have been done through a phone interview, but whatever. No hard or challenging questions arose so I'm going to count this as a .5 real interview. So now I've been on .5 real interviews. All she really wanted to do was to make sure that I could form complete sentences and not drool on myself.  I should be interviewing with the actual manager and then the head honcho in a couple of weeks. 

Ali left a comment wanting to know my reasons for quitting the current gig. I thought I'd just answer here since I'm still mulling it over in my head. I hope it doesn't scare off or offend current or potential teachers. weezermonkey is right. if you love the job, doing it for 40 years would be a blessing. I obviously don't love it. This is just my perspective based on my experience.

I started teaching Bible studies in my college fellowship and found that I really enjoyed teaching. It came really natural to me, by the grace of God, and so I continued to explore it by minoring in Education and taking on tutoring gigs. By the time graduation was looming, I really didn't have a real idea of what I wanted to do but saw teaching as an obvious option.  One night, I decided to apply to a graduate program wherein I could earn my credential and masters degree in two years. Two birds, one stone. I applied only to one school telling myself that if I didn't get in, I'd just find something else to do. Not exactly a passionate pursuit.

When I started teaching, I loved the job. Everything was new and I was learning everyday. Like everyone says, the first year is the toughest but in the best sense of the word. It's just a lot of hard work. The second year was my best year. By the time the third year rolled around, I realized that if I stayed in this position, I'd be doing the same thing every single year. Some teachers will tell you that the kids change and so that keeps it interesting but to me, it's the very same thing: the same curriculum, the same techniques, some of the same struggles. I also started to get lazy very quickly. Instead of busting my butt, staying late everyday, taking work home, and planning on the weekends, I started to do what I had to do. I just couldn't continue functioning at the same level, thinking about work all. the. time. So while I started to feel like the walls were closing in on me, I also know that it was my own fault for not wanting to change things badly enough. 

During my third year, I got another position at the same school working specifically with kids who were not reading at grade level. It was an out of the classroom position and I was supposed to teach reading lessons to small groups of students for 45 minutes intervals. This worked out perfectly. I was focused and  it was fine until additional responsibilities started pouring in.

Instead of having me teach small groups, they thought it'd be more effective if I trained people to teach small groups so that we could get more kids into the groups. The further I got away from the actual teaching, the more I became a manager of adults. This was tough. I'd deliver training and then go observe it see it implemented. 7 times out of 10, it wasn't because these were people who didn't sign on to be teachers. People would come to work late, leave early, or not even come in at all. I did have any authority to hold them accountable and so just watched some of the plans crumble.

Perhaps the single worst thing about the education system is that you cannot actually fire anyone. They make the process so arduous that the administrator never wants to follow through with it. Even if you were able to fire someone, you'd have twice as much trouble finding someone to fill the position. 

Since I was supposed to be doing the training and less of the teaching, I was assigned other things to do. This included things like lunch supervision and student discipline. While it wasn't ideal, I was OK. I started getting really antsy when I had to do things that really had nothing to do with instruction. I make the certificates at my school for all types of awards. I make buttons for students who pass their fluency test. I write the monthly parent newsletters. I put together the art supplies for our art classes. My coworkers started saying things like, "I'm sure your dad is proud that you got a masters degree to make buttons." It was all in jest, but there was a sad glimmer of truth in the jokes. I suppose you can count me as one of those people who thought they could change the world and failed miserably.

I am so far from actual teaching that I'm not even sure what I'm doing anymore.

My principal promises that this year will be different. I'll be in my own room again, working with small groups. Unfortunately, the last year and a half has left a really sour taste in my mouth. There are a lot of things with colleagues that I won't delve into here but I can attest that it is the paperwork and adults who drove me crazy, not the kids.

A bright side of all of this is that I've discovered that I have other skills as well. I see that I'm capable of working in other environments and may even thrive. That's a big reason for this possible change. 

If I had to do it all over again, I would've stayed driven and focused. I wouldn't have given up so easily. I wouldn't have looked to some of my coworkers for examples and direction. I would've done what I knew was right. I would've stayed in the classroom.


WeezerMonkey said...

Hopefully nobody from your workplace reads you blog. ;)

wan-nabe said...

ugh. adults are so often far more difficult to manage than small children. i know you know what i mean.

dapotato said...

i've been realizing i don't necessarily hate kids. more like i hate the adults who raise them. hm.

anyway, prayers going your way.

Winnie said...

It takes time and motivation to find your passion. Good luck with your search!

moderntype said...

Good luck with project new job. I feel like I'm at the same point you are - uestioning how I came to where I'm at today. Of course, we can only blame ourselves, but your choice to seek something that you can thrive on is very commendable.

L.L. said...

hey, what's your new gig gonna be?
i'm really excited for you.
i know i just started working, but i'm already looking forward to my new gig once my two years are up.
it baffles me how someone can stay in one job for 25 years (let alone 40 years!), and i hope it'll never make sense to me.