I had been dreading this past week for a while. For the first half of April, actually. It was one of those weeks when every commitment reared its ugly head all within the same seven days. Each afternoon I was booked to the minute, in some cases I was arriving late to meetings because of obligations the hour before. I really don’t like being busy like that, but there was nothing I could do.
And then I found out about the interview, and spiraled into a total and complete basket case.
Today (Sunday), finally, it’s all over. I survived. Barely.
Saturday was a really intense day. Some friends were in town for a Friday wedding and I met them for brunch. I left them early to make it to the end of set up for a PTA event at my daughter’s school where I MCed and sold raffle tickets. I stayed for clean-up there before heading home to grab the last of the stuff we needed for the Girl Scout Camp Out with my daughter’s troop to end their last year as Daisy’s. Eight girls, all of their moms, and a perky early-thirty-something troop leader all crashing in a one-room cabin.
So. Glad. It’s. Over.
I really have not been in a good mental space this week. Pre-interview nerves had my stomach in knots. I bit my nails to the quick. I couldn’t sleep. I was distracted and irritable at work and at home. It was not pleasant, for anyone.
I still couldn’t sleep the night after the interview, as my mind replayed all the things I’d done wrong. All the ways I’d embarrassed myself. I spiraled into a really negative head space about it and couldn’t pull myself out. It was pretty devastating.
Luckily I had already called a sub for Friday because of my friends being in town. I was driving home from dropping off my son when I got the email about not being a finalist for the job. I ugly cried in my car in the garage. I thought some really horrible things about myself. I was very upset.
But my friends were waiting for me so I dried my eyes, put on my darkest sunglasses, and went to meet them.
And then I drank for a few hours while catching up with old friends.
It was just what I needed. I’m so glad they happened to be in town that day and I wasn’t at work. It was a mercy, one I desperately needed.
I’ve been so busy since Friday morning I haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on this experience, but I have come to some important, and surprising, realizations.
I see now that I haven’t been very invested in my work. Not for a while. When forced to be brutally honest with myself, I have to admit that I haven’t been a stellar teacher for the past few years. Really, I’ve been skating by, probably since my son was born. It’s not that I’ve done a bad job, but I haven’t been going above and beyond. When asked to sit down and explain why I want to teach, I struggled to find the words, not because I couldn’t articulate my feelings, but because I wasn’t even sure what they were.
Why do I want to teach?
I’m not sure I know the answer to that anymore.
And the thing is, sitting in that interview and imaging working at that school, I realize that I do want to teach. I really do. I lost sight of that somewhere along the way, and I am going to need to work hard next year to regain my former enthusiasm and purpose next year.
I wasn’t ready to get that job. I knew it, even if I hadn’t admitted it to myself. That truth wasn’t even hiding that deep, I think that’s why I was such a basket case leading up to the interview. I knew I wasn’t ready, not because of my lack of experience interviewing, but because of how far I’ve strayed off course.
I am confident I will find my footing next year. Sure it sucks to have to do it under the less that ideal circumstances at my district, but if I can rekindle my passion for teaching as I commute between schools (and even between classrooms), I can do it anywhere.
And next year should be a lot better than this year. I will have two 7/8 classes, and won’t be co-teaching for either. They will be mine, to plan and execute as I see fit. I will have fewer 6th grade language classes, and possibly even one other class (I’d really like to get English Language Development–ELD–back again). I will be attending workshops to get new ideas and trying some cool new projects so I can curate my students work into an e-portfolio. Also, we’ll FINALLY have a block schedule, which I’ve been so excited for. All that time I will be improving my Spanish, and in the spring, when I apply for new jobs, I’ll also be putting the final touches on my first summer abroad with my children. There is a lot to look forward to and be excited about, even as I’m disappointed that I won’t be somewhere new (and won’t even have my own classroom anymore).
And I have to be very honest with myself and admit that having a new job would have been challenging. Very much so. Not only would I have had a whole new school culture to learn, I’d have had three new preps to prepare for every day. In many ways, another year of familiar teaching situations is a gift, because I can create some exciting new lessons and projects when I have everything else ready to fall back on. At a new school I would have been struggling just to make ends meet and be ready for each day, all the while stressed that I wasn’t performing to a new, unfamiliar standard. All this on the background of a smaller paycheck, loss of tenure, and the stress and burden of observation. So yeah, the new job had definite draw backs as well.
Last week was a really difficult, emotionally taxing and ultimately painful awakening for me. I really, really struggled, and was surprised and disheartened by much of what I thought and felt about myself. I didn’t realize how much professional respect I had lost for myself in the past few years. Between the administration drama last year, and the campus commuting/co-teaching challenges this year, I had totally dis-invested myself in my work. I really didn’t realize! Next year I plan to take full advantage of the opportunities I will have to reinvest in myself as an educator, so that when (I will not say ‘if’) I get an interview, I will be confident in myself and my abilities.