New Year’s resolutions seem to be just another thing that I don’t have the time or energy for any more. I know, generally, what I want to be like and what I want to get done, and I’ll get to it when I can.
So I wan’t interested in doing a resolution post this year, but I am sort-of interested in taking stock, in a totally non-crunchy way. This was one of those ‘learning’ years. Years in which a bunch of stuff blindsides you and you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take stock of what was broken and what wasn’t, and move on.
I made one big decision and had one big realization this year. The decision was to start teaching as a career, and to be clear, that came first. I’ve thought about teaching lots of times, and it was why I entered into a Master’s program in the first place, though I lost track of that goal very early on. When I took a short gig scoring standardized tests, there were a lot of things about that weird job that felt very right. The first thing you have to do before scoring the tests (I was scoring a 10th grade writing assessment) is learn the material on which the students were being tested. This couldn’t have made me feel more at home, for it was a lot like school. Then you had to learn how to internalize a rubric to score all the tests by the same criteria. This was more challenging than I thought it would be, and though I don’t think any rubric, especially one for a standardized test, is flawless, it was a worthy challenge. Finally, I had the chance to read really good papers, middle-of-the-road-papers, and bad papers, and in each case, I was sorry I couldn’t offer feedback to the kids. So this very short, very bizarre experience sent me walking back down the career education path.
The realization came much later. You could call it an epiphany, if you really wanted. After Shaun was laid off, we both sent out a flurry of resumes. I figured I’d be the first one to land a job, because I have a resume that lends itself to different fields and I talk a good talk in an interview. Plus, I didn’t need a career-type job the way he did, I just needed to earn some cash. I knew the job I found wasn’t a forever job and I knew that it was a somewhat boring job. I didn’t know I was walking into a complete and total disaster. I’ve had a few disaster jobs throughout my career, ones I hated and that didn’t last long. In each case, the job was very different than advertised, and the company was batshit insane. These dread-inducing jobs – I thought I’d seen the last of those. I thought they were a vestige of my younger, more vulnerable days. How on Earth did I get here, I wondered. Did I miss the warning signs out of fear of the flophouse, or was the employer that dishonest? A little fear, a lot of dishonesty. However, that’s when it occurred to me that there does not exist a job within the private sector that I would like. I’m not built for business. I’m an academic. I always have been and I always will be. And since I can’t afford to stay in school forever, that really leaves me one other option. Teaching.
And so I begin 2015 happily unemployed and returning to school, briefly, to obtain an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate. That plus my Master’s degree should land me a job in community college. When I was looking for a teaching job this summer, without any actual teaching experience, I had several people suggest getting certified in ESL, and I sort of half-listened. But the more the idea bounced around in my head, the more it started to make sense. Hey, you know what you’re really good at, self? English. Hey, you know what you really enjoyed in college (outside of music), self? Learning a foreign language and linguistics. So I like the idea as a foray into teaching, that can then be leveraged into teaching other subjects, if I so choose.
The reflection part comes in that I don’t know if I would’ve come to this conclusion so quickly, and acted so quickly, if I wasn’t so miserable. I thought, after the gig this summer, that I would leisurely look for a teaching job and find just the right thing. Obviously that idea flew out the window and all of the unhappiness led to some fast and furious introspection. Misery is a breeding ground for introspection, which is why artists are so frequently miserable. Not that I wouldn’t like to be a great artist, but I am just so tired of being miserable.
I am really excited about all that I have planned for 2015. I don’t know why I kept straying off the education path. And I can only hope that I’ve called my calling correctly. I take refuge in a comment from a friend, “I definitely see you in a teaching role. In fact, now that you mentioned it, I can’t see you any other way.”
Neither can I. And that gives me a great deal of hope.