Monday Musings: Uncertainty During Summer Break

IMG-9312I had one goal for myself this summer and that was to know what I would be doing for the 2018-19 school year before summer break began.  Right now, I really don’t know what I will be doing.  I had an opportunity lined up, but due to some unexpected changes at this school, I’m not sure what is happening and the school has not provided me with any updates and it’s not because I haven’t asked.  I’m a planner and I like to know what I’m doing and when.  This uncertainty is nerve wracking and is preventing me from fully enjoying my break.  With summer break getting shorter each year, I don’t have much time to waste.

I have options…and options are great until you have to make a decision.  Although I believe every job I have had during my 12 year career in education has shaped me as a person, I’m starting to wonder if I am capable of choosing the right job for myself.  During the last two school year in IPS, I have had positions that have been eliminated.  Both positions were eliminated for two reasons, money and restructuring.  I understand the need to be responsible with finances and to restructure to make outcomes better for students, but it sucks if you are caught in the cross hairs, not once but twice.

I need and want stability.  The majority of interviews I had have thus far are because people reached out to me, not because I actually applied for the position.  Some people that reached out were more concerned about filling a position than actually convincing me that their school would be the best fit for me.  Newsflash principals: Interviews are two way conversations.  If you can’t even articulate the role or what your school is all about or why I should come and work for you, then people like me who have options will say no.  One administrator said, “I can’t believe you are turning the position down.”  I’m not interested in being anyone’s token black hire so your can check the diversity box off on your checklist.

My inner circle is divided on what I should do next.  Here is what has been suggested:

  • Quit K-12 and focus on writing.
  • Quit K-12 and work on your PhD.
  • Become an administrator.
  • Go back to working with English language learners.
  • Try being a media specialist/librarian.
  • Find another instructional coach job.
  • Teach English again.
  • Write and work at the university.
  • Work on your PhD and work at the university.
  • Quit IPS and go back to one of your previous districts.
  • Find a part-time K-12 job.

What I Don’t Want to Do

Although, I can’t tell you exactly what I want to do, I can tell you want I don’t want to do.  I don’t want to teach English full time anymore.  I loved being and instructional coach and only teaching English part-time this year and it was great.  What I enjoyed teaching most was the two sections of English/language arts lab for students trying to pass the I-STEP.  I love doing intervention.  What I did not like was teaching English 10 especially when I was told I wasn’t going to teach it at all.  I didn’t find out I was actually teaching it until the first day of school.

I also don’t want to be a high school assistant principal unless it is a tiny high school which is unlikely in Indy.  I was going to be recommended for a high school AP position for the 2017-18 school year, but I withdrew my name before the recommendation happened.  Another high school contacted me for an interview a month ago (and I did not apply to this position), but I declined the interview. If I pursue administration, I want it to be elementary.  I had the opportunity to do some administration work when I was an instructional coach at an elementary school that didn’t have an assistant principal.  That led me to obtain my admin license.  I enjoyed the work (well except the master schedule and reviewing a staff handbook) and I believe I would be a good elementary assistant principal.

What I am Definitely Going to Do

I will keep writing.  I love writing and I am now finally willing to admit I am good at it.  I wasn’t comfortable acknowledging that, but I am now.  I have reached so many people through my writing and it has open up many opportunities.  I always wrote as a way to express myself.  I never thought someone would compensate me for it.  Since people are willing to compensate me, it must mean I’m sort of good at it.  It is a skill I am continuing to develop.

What’s Not off the Table

My husband has reminded me since we paid off the hospital debt from my two month stay in the hospital during my twin pregnancy and my boys’ two month stay in the NICU four year ago, that I don’t have to work if I don’t want to work.  This school year is the first school year, I have heard him.  Typically he would start in about it and I would say, “Thanks for sharing” and go about my business. This year, we pulled out the budget to look at how it could work AND it could work.  Penny pincer me and my doom and gloom brain always thinks about what if.  If I get my ‘what if this happens under control,’ it might be an option.

Writing and being an adjunct at a university is also a viable option.  I have been an adjunct at IUPUI for five years and later this month I will begin as an adjunct at Marian University.  My least stressful teaching job has been at the university level.  They really just let you teach.  There aren’t pacing guides and mandates.  The university of course has rules, but you have so much flexibility and freedom and I love it.

Too Many Options

People close to me know, I have five licenses: English/Language Arts 5-12, Reading P-12, English as a New Language P-12, Library/Media P-12, and School Administration P-12.  I did get accepted into a PhD program, but I haven’t decided if I am starting this fall.  I could work at the elementary, middle, or high school level or leave K-12.  I could return to a previous district or go to a new school, but then I have to consider my salary.  If I am going to put in the work, then I want to be appropriately compensated. I could work on my PhD and teach at the university or just write.  I really just don’t know right now.

The number one question I was asked on my last day at Crispus Attucks High School was, “So what’s next for you?” I responded, “That’s a good question.”  Right now, that’s is still my response.  If this piece seems chaotic or all over the place, well that’s my brain at the moment and hopefully the chaos will settle and answers will reveal themselves soon.



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