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.