I Want a Crystal Ball for Christmas

My professional future is not so clear.

I was not asked back to teach at L.U. this spring.  Of course, this comes as no surprise to me, and I’m not even a little dejected by it.  My boss went out of his way to make sure that I knew the possibility of ’round-the-calendar employment at the university was mighty slim but, of course, that didn’t stop me from holding out just the tiniest bit of hope that he’d maybe find a class to toss my way.  Alas, this is not to be; as it is, Dr. C said that he’s having trouble finding sufficient classes to keep all the TAs working.

Knowing that I wasn’t going to be coming back to teach in January, I headed off to Dr. C’s office to see if I could get some advice on what my next move should be.  He invited me in and we chatted for a bit about the problems of adjunct work in colleges and universities, about the fact that lecturers tend to keep their positions despite their “crappy pay and lousy benefits,” and whether or not it might be fruitful for me to pursue another degree – possibly even a Ph.D. – to make myself a more attractive prospect.

Dr. C mused a bit about this last question, then asked me, seemingly out of the blue, if I had a certification to teach in public schools.  I do, and he immediately suggested that I start applying to the area high schools.  He even mentioned a few specific schools where I should somehow work his name into my letter of inquiry; it seems that he feels he’s got some pull in these places that might be useful to me if I were to aim for a job there.

Here’s the thing, though; I don’t know if I would be well suited to teach in a high school.

Dr. C seems to think that, given a little bit of runway, I would be a fantastic high school teacher.  “You can stand up to the kids,” he said, “and they’ll still know that you care about them.  You’d love it.”  Of this, I have absolutely no doubt.  With one or two notable exceptions, I have loved my students; I am certain that my particular brand of maternal professionalism would be beneficial to a great number of high school kids.  When I was a troubled teenager, I would have welcomed a teacher like me in my life; someone who held me to high standards because she knew both that I was worth the effort and that I was capable of meeting her expectations.  The idea of having a whole school year with kids appeals to me, too.  I’m sometimes frustrated by the fleeting nature of the relationships that I build with my students.  A semester just isn’t long enough.

On the other hand, though, while I’m CERTAIN that my personality is well-suited to high school students, I’m almost equally certian that it’s NOT suited to the professional enviornment.  I’m not sure that I will be able to toe the lines that some of my friends who teach in high schools have to toe.  I don’t know that I could endure with stoic silence some of the bullshit policies and unreasonable demands that my friends have to put up with.  I’m pretty sure, as well, that I’d lose my job the first time a parent tells me that I’m being too hard on their little darlings when I hold them to standards and allow them to suffer the consequences when they don’t.

More than my concerns about doing damage to my career by being ill-equipped to comport myself in a way appropriate to the high school culture is my concern about taking on a truly full-time gig.  Mr. Chili’s work is such that he is occasionally required to be away from home for stretches of time – not often, certainly, but enough that my having a high degree of flexibility in my schedule is necessary.  Even if that weren’t the case, our financial situation is such that I don’t have to work full time, and I really do believe that my primary responsibility in these years is to be a strong, supportive, and available parent to my daughters.  I’m just not sure that I can devote enough of myself to being a good full-time teacher while continuing to be an effective and present mother, too.

I talked to my husband about it the other night and we came to the conclusion that, for now, high school probably isn’t the best place for me.  I’m going to re-work my C.V. over the Christmas break and send packets out to a bunch of the smaller schools in the area after the first of the year.  I was invited back to TCC to teach a public speaking course through March – I’ll still be teaching after December – but I can’t foresee any more work with TCC as they’re closing the school in 2009.  I want to have something lined up so that I’ll be working continuously from now until I’m hired back at Local U. in the fall.



Filed under colleagues, concerns, critical thinking, frustrations, I love my boss, job hunting, Learning, Local U., out in the real world, self-analysis, Teaching, The Job

13 responses to “I Want a Crystal Ball for Christmas

  1. Organic Mama

    I am sorry to hear localU doesn’t have a place for you for the upcoming semester, although I propose that we have regular book talks in coffeeshops to help pass the non-teaching time should it arise. I’ve dragged my heels in applying to local colleges, but since I have really been missing teaching – my time away has told me that – it’s time to revisit the proactivity of applying.

  2. The LU students are going to be the ones who suffer when you leave. It chaps my hide to see great teachers let go when there are so many awful ones in tenure positions. I think you made the right decision about not teaching in high school — especially if you don’t have to take a job right now.

  3. There’s always substituting in the local public schools as well.

    That said, I’m teaching middle school special ed–and despite the stuff that goes on, I enjoy it.

  4. Jen

    I understand your concerns about the bureaucracy in public schools…I’ve battled with similar concerns. But as far as not wanting to teach full-time, have you considered teaching part-time? That might be another option, assuming the schools have that sort of position.

  5. Maybe you can look at private schools? I don’t know if the organizational bs is any better or worse, but I went to a private, Catholic, all boys, college prep, day school (no boarders) not too far from where you grew up that had amazing teachers. And with all due respect to public school, teachers expected – and got – a much higher level of work from us than what I saw my friends at public school being asked for…
    You might like it. I could totally see you at my old high school, too.

  6. As I have told you before, I think you would do well teaching high school English; yes, there is much one must deal with — usually from colleagues and less from students. But, this is the case in education period. At the right school you will find a world that will allow you to teach the way you like to teach, as well as continue to surround yourself with top notch academic types. I am not sure if you and Mr. Chili are up to relocation, but there are a number of top private schools around. I really would like to see you give this a chance.

    You are too good and passionate not to be teaching. This is a problem for a number of people who will miss out on your expertise. I am with Michael.

    You know, I love your grammar Wednesdays. Book maybe? Just a thought.

    Visit: http://www.nais.org

  7. I am confused, but let me wrant. She is obviously a great teacher, but it does not mean she would make it in High School. 14 years of teaching junior high has proven to me that I do not belong in High School either.

    As a new teacher she is unlikely to get AP or PreAP classes to teach, the things at which she would excel because her requirements are nearly as strict as the coursework demands.

    Some people are not cut out for public school teaching. If their tolerance for bullshit is low, then they should not be involved.

    The one thing I can say is that if she does not have to work, she might be a good candidate. That gives her the power to flip the bird to the power that be and walk out on their bullshit, problem is, it is bad form and I know she wouldn’t do it.

    I say stay home.
    Take care of the girls.
    Leave the pubic school fight to retards like me.
    I like it dirty, backwards, and senseless.


  8. Laurie B

    There might be some options for tutoring as well.

  9. May I add another plug for part-time teaching? I teach two classes of 11th grade English at an early college charter high school, and I absolutely love my job. I have all morning to myself, and with only 42 students (23 in one class, 19 in the other), the correcting load is not overwhelming. Many schools are on an A/B schedule these days, so part-time teachers only have to come in every other day. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  10. I hope good things come your way; and if you figure out what you want to do, perhaps some of that will rub off on me (although my temperament is not suitable AT all for high school teaching.)

  11. I’m confident that, once your name gets out there, you’ll find a job you want, that fits your style and philosophy. I’d love to see you at my school, but the commute would kill you!

    : )

  12. Have you considered private schools? We put up with a lot less B.S. than they have to in public schools, but we also get fewer benefits and less pay. However, not having someone stand behind me and tell me what to teach, and when and how to teach it is worth it to me. I don’t have to worry about state testing or losing my job if enough kids don’t score well.

    Just a thought…

  13. Ah, I see you are in transition mode as well. Kinda sucks, doesn’t it? (Sorry, I have no words of wisdom, but I do commiserate with you.)

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