It’s taken me a while to figure out that “back-to-school” time does bring changes for me this year, despite my lack of employment. Initially, I watched the hype unfold with a sense of detachment. I walked past sale racks of notebooks and pens without feeling the urge to walk through and pick out fun new stuff. My friends went to their meetings, posted pictures of classrooms on Facebook, and even asked my advice on curriculum, but none of it seemed to really apply to me. It wasn’t until I drove past a school building and saw kids and parents streaming in and out of it that I was jolted into reality.
My plan is to sub this year. It’s my fallback when I don’t have other consistent employment, and all-in-all, I don’t hate it. It gets me into the classroom, spending time with teenagers, using the skills that make me good at what I do. Sometimes it leads to connections and more long-term work, too. And of course, subbing leads to stories that make good blog posts. 🙂
However, in order to sub, one key thing needs to happen first. I need to let the schools know I exist. I finally sat down yesterday and filled out all the forms for the high school up the street from my apartment, and sent out some e-mails to other area schools letting them know that I’m around and available for subbing. I probably should have gotten that ball rolling much sooner, but schools don’t usually start using their subs until after the first few days and weeks of school, anyway. So I’m still good, right? 🙂
I could list a lot of reasons it’s taken me this long to actually get my butt in gear and start doing what needed to be done to keep myself in the field this year. It’s been a roller-coaster summer of high highs and low lows. Amazing things have happened unrelated to my career, but that update belongs in another post, so stay tuned and I’ll explain later. I’ve somewhat intentionally been avoiding thinking about teaching, though. As I’ve said before, the blow of losing my last job hurt. I’ve had other jobs slip through my fingers and been disappointed before, but this was something more than that. I spent five months in my perfect professional fit, my dream job, and I proved myself to them, darn it! It’s so frustrating to know that being good at what I do wasn’t enough, and I don’t know why. It took a long time to be able to think about teaching without feeling that bitterness and frustration.
Instead, I’ve spent a lot of this summer refocusing, sorting out priorities, and figuring out my identity in a world where the dust is settling after all our moves. Figuring out my identity beyond that of a “nomadic teacher” is a new thing for me. Who am I outside of the classroom? How do I establish myself in a community without that easy descriptor of “high school English teacher” to back me up and give me purpose? What’s my role in the world if I’m both stationary and not teaching?
It’s almost funny how every time I think I have my life figured out, God changes the plan. I can see pieces what He’s doing this time around. Like I said, I haven’t explained the good parts of this summer, yet. I’m not quite ready to share those details, but it’s enough to say that I’ve been forced to rethink my priorities. It’s not easy to loosen my grip on a piece of myself that I’ve clung to so tightly for the last five years. It’s weird to feel like my career – which has been so integral to who I am for so long – has been tossed into an indefinite gray area.
In the interest of full disclosure, there was one lead I didn’t pursue, one teaching job I probably could have landed after I left my last job. It would have allowed me to keep calling myself a high school English teacher, but it was wrong for me. I could list reasons involving location, commuting distance, demographics, etc., but suffice it to say, it wasn’t the right environment for me. I’ve had my years of unfulfilling stress, and I knew if I took that job, it’d be more of the same. I’ve burned myself out with that kind of work before. I just didn’t have the energy and drive to put myself through that again.
So I will sub again this year; I’ve just been feeling a bit apathetic about it for most of the summer. It’ll be good, though. It will get me out of the house and earn us a little extra money for our savings account. And who knows? Maybe walking through the doors of a classroom and spending some time with teenagers will toss me out of the professional fog and bring some clarity to my situation.
Stay tuned for more updates!