Making the Right Decision

life is sum of all decisions determined by priorities

My previous post discussed the frustration of having to interview.  For the most part, I feel I interview well.  I may come on strong, but I think it’s because I am not shy.  I don’t hesitate to answer questions and I try to come off knowledgable.  Most of the time, I feel this is accurately conveyed.  Fortunately, it was today.

Today, I interviewed for a 5th grade position about an hour away.  I was hesitant about the location but figured interviewing couldn’t hurt.  Practice makes perfect and it’s important to be open-minded.  At the very least, maybe I would make new connections that could lead me to where I am meant to be.

While driving home from the interview, I received a phone call asking for permission to contact references.  Of course this was a good sign.  The principal did not hesitate to call all three references and got back to me within an hour or so.  As you have probably assumed while reading this, I was offered the job.  Despite my gut instinct, I asked for time to discuss this over with my husband and get back to her which she had no problem doing.

I rarely ask for opinions on Facebook.  However, I put it out there to get feedback on if an hour drive is a crazy commute.  I think it’s good to have different opinions and perspectives (in all areas of life) as it allows you to see things differently.  It pushes you to evaluate your priorities and has you question how best to represent yourself and your morals.

Driving an hour there and an hour back adds up quickly.  However, I would get to have my own classroom and do something I’m truly passionate about.  I’m eager to perform well and learn as much as I can – and I could do that here.  But the man, who would be my co-teacher, specifically said he is hoping to find someone who will be here and commit to this family of teachers.

The most popular response on Facebook suggested that I take the job, and if something better comes along to turn it down.  Although it is true this is just business and this happens a log, it makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t want to burn any bridges and I don’t want to screw anyone over.  I would hate to leave them scrambling at the last minute to fill the position.  At the same time, it’s a job – I could love it.  It would help bring in money so we can finally have the funds to adopt a child of our own.  Maybe it won’t be too bad if I find podcasts and music and use that time to decompress.  However, in the winters the roads are horrible…. and this mental debate goes on and on and on and on….

I think at the end of the day, when making a decision like this, you have to go with your gut instinct.  Despite needing the money, I think it would be unfair to take the job.  I can’t commit to being apart of the community long-term as I assume after a year or so that drive would eat at me.  I would much rather have a job close by and I think I need to have faith that it will all work out how it’s supposed to.

For me, it’s important I walk away feeling good about how I handled the situation.  Hopefully, the principal will appreciate my honesty and maybe even pass my name on to someone in my area.  I need to just trust that it happens for a reason, and the job I’m meant to be in will fall in my lap – even if the school year is inching closer and closer.  My priority is being with my family, holding up a good reputation, and finding a job that I want to be in for years to come.  Therefore, I think I have concluded this isn’t the best fit and I will need to respectfully decline the offer.

Silver lining: At least I’m in a position to turn down an offer.  At least I have an offer.  At least I had an interview and hopefully there are more to follow.

Keeping an Open Mind

For the last two years, I have been a 6th grade teacher.  I’ve coached middle school volleyball and soccer and really found my groove.  Middle school is where I felt I belonged and I was committed to the idea.  The fact that most people couldn’t imagine the idea of working in a middle school further confirmed the fact that I was someone who was right for the job – that I was someone who could truly relate to the kiddos and make a difference.

However, transferring my teaching license in Michigan has been quite frustrating.  In Colorado I was licensed K-6 for elementary school.  In Michigan, elementary school is defined as K-5.  Despite the fact that I passed the Praxis test and was endorsed in secondary Language Arts, Michigan doesn’t care.  They will not simply accept a passed test but rather expects you to complete a program and either major or minor in the topic.  I already have a Master’s degree, so having to go to school for the same thing I’m already endorsed in (assuming I am committed to secondary education) seems silly to me.  Lastly, I have to pass two Michigan state tests in order to receive an official teaching license – one of which has three subtests.  Needless to say, I have been quite disappointed finding out all the hoops I have to jump through to be able to do what I love.

Because Michigan only approved me to teach elementary school, I’ve had to adjust my whole mindset.  It’s something I am no longer used to and have to just start accepting that I could still love teaching elementary.  After all, I have worked with kids of all different ages and have loved it.  I went to school to teach elementary school because clearly I enjoyed that age as well.  I think I just have forgotten how much fun that age is too.

I did a practicum in a preschool, I’ve done a practicum in a 2nd grade classroom, I student taught 4th grade, I taught for part of a year 5th grade, and then have done 2 years in 6th grade.  I loved 4th grade – in fact I thought for a while it was my ideal grade.  I loved the 2nd grade practicum – the students were cute, they felt safe with me, and I wanted to take them home as one of my own.

So despite the fact that the idea of teaching little ones scare me, I think it’s because I’m nervous I may not be as strong as I once was teaching those topics.  However, I have an interview for a 1st or 2nd grade position (it may have changed now so I’m not entirely sure) and I need to start getting excited.  There are a lot of benefits to teaching elementary school as well – particularly less grading.  Regardless of what I teach, as long as I have a good team and I have a sense of confidence teaching what I’m teaching, I know I’ll be successful.  I know I’m a good teacher.  I’m passionate about teaching, and if that enthusiasm continues, I know I will only grow to be a better teacher and hopefully become a major asset to any school I’m at.

For right now, I need to go with the flow.  I need to keep an open mind and just embrace where life takes me.  God has a plan for me and I need to relinquish any control I’m trying to hold on to.  Let’s be honest, I really don’t have any control.  I make plans and God laughs.  So keep your fingers crossed because one way or another, I will have a classroom of my own once again!

So the Hunt Begins…

As you can tell from the title of this blog, the hunt for a teaching job has officially begun.  I have been filling out applications like mad online, posting on Facebook asking for any connections or suggestions in the area, emailing principals directly, and getting feedback from newly established friends in the area as well.

Emailing principals is hit or miss.  Some principals will look at your resume and perhaps consider you.  Others will see your email and immediately delete it as nobody got time for that.  It’s all a numbers game thIMG_0091ough.  Eventually something has to hit, doesn’t it?

I so badly want to be teaching.  It is something I truly feel I am meant to do and is something I am
passionate about.  Getting emails parents reaffirms what I already knew, not to stroke my own ego.

I feel that the emails point out how I already feel.  I strive so hard to build connections with parents and students and try to provide that positive feedback so students have a good feeling about themselves.  They feel recognized and it makes them want to come to my class.  Parents see that I am doing my best to recognize the best in their kids and communicate effectively with them.  Providing that communication makes us a team – they know I want what’s best so if I need help they are more willing to provide that additional support that will enable that success.

But how do you show that in an application.  How do you show principals and hiring teams that you truly mean it.  How do you prove you aren’t full of bullshit and you truly do the best you can to be the best.

I want to improve.  I want to be that teacher that families in the community hope to have when their children reach my grade-level.  I want to be the teacher students look back on and say, “Mrs. Budden was my favorite teacher.  She got me and she made learning fun.”

I’m not perfect by any means.  I still have a long ways to go to be where I want to be as far as my development is concerned as a teacher.  But teaching is something I am meant to do.  Teaching is a job that gives me a sense of fulfillment.  Even on my worst day, I still loved my job.  There were random things that made my day.  For example, I love playing music in the classroom.  I played “Man in the Mirror” while they were independently working and randomly, when the chorus hit, ALL of them just started singing it out loud.  I couldn’t be mad as it was done in unison so perfectly.

Although I love middle school, I’m willing to teach whatever I have to in order to be back in the classroom.  I just wished that I was able to better sell myself than answering generic questions on an online application that doesn’t enable me to truly show who I am as a teacher.  I want schools to see that I am a teacher that is passionate and a team-player.  That I enjoy being as involved as possible and am a go-getter.

So, if you happen to be reading this, and have connections within the Michigan school system – I welcome any help, suggestions, feedback, etc.  Starting anew is not easy.  Building those connections, making yourself new with no other connections is difficult to do.  But I’m hopeful and determined and I will be working in a classroom come this fall if it is the last thing I do.

 

Ups and Downs

The last 6 months for me has been a series of ups and downs, back and forth.  Essentially I’ve been on the longest roller coaster ever.

Quick recap:

  1. Brian gets relocated and moves from Colorado to Michigan in January
  2. We decide to do long distance until the school year is over – I’m very reluctant to leave – but hey it’s a new adventure
  3. House hunting
  4. House selling
  5. Move in with a friend and figure out what to do with the dogs until we close on a house
  6. House buying
  7. Negative pregnancy test after IUI
  8. The sellers from hell – back and forth, negotiating, tears, relief, take-backs, tears, frustrations, googling where to bury a body, move in
  9. Road trip #1 – moving the dogs out with dad
  10. Interview on the spot and a job offer
  11. Have to leave the school early, with a week and notice – lots of heart-breaking goodbyes
  12. Road trip #2 – Official move to Michigan — heartbreaking goodbye to my mom at the airport
  13. Settling in – loving the new house as do the dogs and building a community
  14. New job – lots of highs and lows all the time
  15. Starting the adoption process

 

So here we are now.  In a place where I have been struggling.  Especially these last couple of days or weeks rather.

I’m currently recruiting for a company I once recruited for.  The position itself came up when I stated in a light conversation I could have been really successful had I been given the right manager.  So this was a 2nd chance at it.  A fresh attempt especially seeing I didn’t have a job in Michigan already.  This would keep me occupied.  It would pay more than teaching.  It would provide me time to finalize my temporary teaching license and time to get certified in middle school – something I had fallen in love with.  So when the job just fell into my lap and I was offered the position on the spot, how could I say no?

The adjustment wasn’t easy.  I’m one of those people that when you come up with a plan that’s what the plan has to be.  What the big picture will look like.  Going back and forth between two different potential outcomes drives me crazy and creates a lot of anxiety in me.  My vision was to grow as a teacher and retire after 35 years of teaching.  This was not part of the plan.

Let go and let God.

So when I decided to accept the position I had to just keep telling myself that maybe this was just a God thing – God had a different plan for me than I had envisioned.  My dad always said, “You make plans and God laughs.”  Because really, it’s all out of our control anyways.  Perhaps I was meant to be a recruiter after all.  I’m good with people, I’m social, and I work my ass off.  This location specifically needs people like that.  I could definitely be an asset.

Yes, I was nervous about what people would say and it was hard to think I could potentially be done with teaching.

“But you are such a good teacher!” or “I thought you loved teaching.” or the emails from parents, “You are my child’s favorite teacher.”

Reminder: it’s hard for me to think of going back and forth… I want an end goal.  I don’t want to teach, go to recruiting, go back to teaching, etc.  I want a career path that I stick with for 30 years.  Ridiculous.  I know

However, with a positive and hopeful midst and a sense of acceptance I allowed myself to get excited.  I met my boss back in Colorado and we had a good time.  We clicked.  We vibed.  I was getting excited about what I could bring to the team.  The first week of official week I felt I kicked butt.  I had a sense of pride and saw that perhaps a new career path could really be an option.

Then Brian got an email.  It was from my boss’s boss… the head of HR.  It read: Call me. We have a problem.

Apparently my boss had gone to the head of HR, very upset, and said that Brian told someone I was taking her job.

Wait… what?  Take that in for a minute… doesn’t that sound like such a middle school thing to have say outlaid as an adult?  Who goes to their boss and reports that? That sounds like something one of my students would report to me when tattling on a fellow classmate.

Anyways, we were dumbfounded.  I came back to work after that weekend with a knot in my stomach.  Here I just had a kick ass week and felt so confident and now that has all gotten messed up.  Rather than just brushing it off her shoulder, my boss then continued to state what other small things I had said that bothered her.  For example, “What will your role be when we hire our final recruiter?”  Apparently, that caught her off guard.

It’s been a series of those things for the last couple of weeks now.  I was so frustrated and called my mom crying at work one day asking what I got myself into?  How is it that it went from being so kick ass to just so tumultuous?  New beginnings always have ups and downs…but not like this.

So this is where I am now.  Struggling.  There are good days and bad days.  Good hours and bad hours.  She is okay with me one minute the next minute she seems like she is ready to kill me.  I ask her a question and she responds helpfully, I ask her another and I feel like I’ve poked the bear.  I did great while she was on vacation but she doesn’t trust me yet to go solo.

It’s truly shown me that I am really meant to be a teacher.  It’s what I love and what comes so naturally.  With teaching there is a sense of community.  Even if you don’t like your boss, you have 50 other people to lean on and confide in.  There is a sense of belonging and family and camaraderie.  We work together and we laugh and cry together.  When you think you have had a shitty day, some kid says something that is just so random you can’t but help and laugh.  I truly miss it.  And even on my best day as a recruiter, I don’t get that sense of fulfillment and confidence and pride that I do as a teacher.

At least I’m aware now.  I’m still trying to ride the roller coaster.  I’m still trying to go with the flow.  I’m still trying to let go and let God.  It’s a daily challenge.  But knowing that I have the choice to teach again means there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And knowing that makes everything else okay.

 

Missing My Erie Family

Growing up I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I have always loved working with kids.  The age of kids has gone back and forth; but the bottom line was that I would always be surrounded by young unpredictable little faces.  Despite not going straight into teaching once I graduated from CSU, I was always led back to the initial plan.  Who would have known that that plan would haveIMG_0166 had me teaching middle school?

I started off teaching 5th grade in a charter school that I learned to hate.  I was lucky enough to walk away a great friend and moved on into a K-8 school where I fell in love with middle school.  Because I was a late hire I wasn’t guaranteed a position which thus brought me to good ole Erie Middle School.

I had the luxury of teaching math and language arts.  I was placed in the 8th grade hall slightly isolated from the other 6th grade teachers.  At first I was slightly bummed but I grew to love it because it enabled me to befriend other grade-level teachers.  In fact I became what we called an “honored imposter” of the 8th grade team.

The teachers at Erie have this unique community that I haven’t seen in the other schools I’ve been in (granted it’s fewer than most veteran teachers).  For the most part, everyone is united.  Everyone hangs out together – across grade levels. People have been working at Erie for years and everyone knows all the families in the community.

On Fridays it’s not so much a question but rather an expectation and anticipation for afternoon drinks.  This is a regular thing and it is where all the teachers fall in love with each other.  We know each other on a personal level and therefore are truly a family.  Finding this environment was once in a lifetime (or so I’m told) and I had to leave it.

Do not get me wrong, I am proud of my husband and it’s the duty of a spouse to support one another.  But making the decision to leave Erie was the hardest one I’ve ever made.  It’s something I wish I could change – if I could pick up Erie and bring it to Michigan I would.

IMG_0167IMG_0153

I’ve been in Michigan for about a month now.  Yes it is very green.  Yes I am enjoying the community we are building.  Yes I LOVE our new house and so do the dogs.  All of that is good.  But I really really really miss my Erie family and working at Erie.  I feel like being in that school confirmed every and any doubt I ever had about my chosen career path.

I created friends that I intend making last a lifetime with a relentless amount of inside jokes the incorporated Fireball Whiskey, Unicorns, and awkward turtles along with the importance of rigor and assuming positive intentions.