Back At It

I’ve been very remiss in my writing practice over the last year or so.  Part of that was a sort of cold-turkey response to my blog-post-a-day habit; for a number of years, I posted literally every day (I think I missed a St. Patrick’s day one year), but I came to the realization a while ago that the habit was stressing me out.  I didn’t want for writing to be a source of tension, so I dropped the writing (and replaced it with a facebook habit, but that’s another story).

My proverbial pendulum has swung back to center, though, and I’m realizing that my life is made better and richer when I’m writing; I take the time to observe and reflect when I’m writing, and I feel much more present in and connected to my life.  To that end, I’m going to wade back in to my writing practice, though I don’t think I’m going to jump into the deep end that I was inhabiting when I was posting something every day.

Another motivation for my writing again is that I like having a record of my thoughts and experiences, and over the last few years, my professional life hasn’t really been something that I’ve been eager to recount.  Since I left my job at the charter school under profoundly difficult conditions in the summer of 2012, I’ve worked a series of adjunct gigs at Local University and a few area community colleges, and while the jobs helped pay the bills (and helped keep me from going too deeply down the proverbial rabbit hole of professional ennui and despair), none of the experiences was especially noteworthy or exciting.

I’m hopeful that that’s about to change.

Last fall, my adopted daughter (here referred to as Sweet Pea) introduced me to a co-director of the charter school from which she graduated (after leaving the train wreck that was high school where I worked).  She felt that this woman – let’s call her Elizabeth – would resonate with me and I with her; we had, Sweet Pea assured me, a similar energy and we valued the same things.  She arranged for us to all meet over pizza, and before our drinks were even brought to the table, both of us knew that Sweet Pea was right.

We had an energetic (and energizing) conversation about education, about what we think is important in school (and what a lot of schools are missing) and, perhaps most importantly, WHY we’re in this business.  By the time our lunch was over, I almost wanted to weep with relief; Elizabeth gets it, and I felt like I could be enthusiastically myself without having to worry that I was “too much” for her because she, herself, is also too much.

A few days later, I got an email from Elizabeth asking me if I thought I could be “free in January.”  She was pretty cagey about the request, telling me that she couldn’t really tell me any details, but that she really wanted me and was “working on something that might interest” me.

Those were a couple of LONG months, I’m here to tell you.

Round about the middle of January, Elizabeth sends me a text message asking if I can meet to discuss what she’s been “working on” since we met in the fall.  It turns out that she couldn’t put me in a classroom, but she could get me a gig working as a one-on-one aide with a kid with mild Asperger’s.  She explained to me that she understood that this job wasn’t in my field of expertise, but that it was well within my ability (the kid was a joy; truly) and that it would position me to be ready to slip into a classroom job that she was sure was going to open up for the 15-16 school year.

Even though I was a little insecure about the one-on-one job – I don’t have any SPED training beyond a couple of classes I took as a graduate student – I trusted Elizabeth when she said it was a stepping stone, and I jumped at the offer.  The student I was working with was a senior who really just needed someone to help keep him on track (which was a good thing; all his classes were math and science based, and I was essentially useless as a content tutor, but I could help him with the executive functioning).  He was sweet and happy, and I started looking forward to going to work every day.

A few weeks ago, the other co-director of the school, a gentle giant I’ll call Pete, caught me in the cafeteria after lunch and asked me if I could stop by his office before I left for the day.

I’m going to let you in on a secret; no matter how old you are, no matter what position you hold, and no matter that you’ve never done anything wrong, when you get called to the principal’s office, you get nervous.  I KNEW that he was asking to see me so that he could talk to me about the possibility of my coming to work in a different capacity next year, but I spent the rest of the afternoon fretting that I’d done or said something I shouldn’t have, even though I knew I hadn’t.

In any event, he’d called me to ask me if I would be interested in coming on board as a faculty member next year (and got a chuckle out of my confession that a call to the principal’s office still makes me edgy).  He was very vague on the details – they hadn’t worked out yet what position I might fill or what classes or grade levels I might teach or whether the position would be a full or part-time – but he wanted to know if I wanted the job.

It was seriously all I could do not to squeal.

I’m still in a bit of limbo.  My senior has graduated, so I’m filling in as a floating aide around the school (a situation which I really, really don’t like, but it keeps me present in the community).  I had a meeting a week or so ago with both Pete and Elizabeth and was formally offered a classroom position for next year; though they’re still not sure exactly what classes I’ll be teaching and I’ve not been presented with an actual contract yet, the deal is essentially done.

I cannot express in words how excited I am to be back in a high school classroom again.  I haven’t been right since leaving my job at the charter high school (even though leaving was absolutely the right thing – the only thing – to do), and I’m very much looking forward to feeling right again.



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5 responses to “Back At It

  1. This is exciting! Welcome back to the blog world (I still read even if I don’t post.) and to teaching!

  2. The power of contacts. They are important. Most of my options have been a bit of luck, knowing someone, and a bit of talent.

  3. Congratulations! 🙂 Keep us posted – I can’t wait to hear how things go 🙂

  4. Kati

    Ms. Chili,

    I am an English teacher in Massachusetts and just came across your post about a film and lit class you were developing. I am developing a similar class and was wondering if you would be willing to share any insights or materials. I know this was a few years ago but any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you,

    Kati Black

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