Good Lord, I actually got a JOB!

Yes, it’s so hard to believe it’s true.

I filled out all the 8 million pieces of necessary paperwork and paid the appropriate fees to become a substitute in our local public school district and submitted them all on a Friday.

I figured, like ALL job prospects I’ve had in the past, it would take a while to hear back from them.  I got my certificate on the following Tuesday, and a phone call the next day, Wednesday to substitute teach. I’m certified to be  substitute teacher from preschool-12th grade and sub for a teacher’s aide for the regular classroom as well as for special needs kids in our local school district.

It was such a head-spinning thing.   And it was so weird because I’d been unemployed for 8 years and while I was in pretty dire need for employment, I wasn’t quite psychologically ready to re-enter the workforce after so long.

I am so embarrassed to say when the sub caller asked me if I was able to substitute for a middle school, I totally freaked out and had an anxiety attack.  I was like, huh? you want me to what, now?  I heard about those crazy, mixed up middle schoolers and they scared me.

I felt like I was being thrown to the wolves.

I thought, “what, no job training?”

Um, nope.

I was told, “just follow the lesson plan and you’ll be fine”.

Gulp.

I found myself telling the sub caller that I wasn’t quite ready for middle school just yet.

No worries though, later that day, I was called for a half-day aide position at an elementary school.  So instead, I got to ease into things a little bit.

So far, I’ve subbed for 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades and 7th and 8th grade Language Arts.  I’ve been an aide for kindergarten and I’ve been a special needs aide for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade kids.

I have substituted from preschool up through 8th grade so far, though sometimes I wish I could try out high school.  Life here has been crazy busy, but I get home about the same time my daughters do, and I will have the same vacation days they will have. I still have time to help them with their homework, make dinner and do some fun things like art journaling with them.

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I’ve worked at my two younger daughters’ elementary school a number of times and I prefer that, because sometimes I get to see them during lunch breaks or when I take my class to their different “specials” (art, music, gym, or library) and I don’t need to pay for after-school care.  What a blessing that is.

I get home very tired sometimes, but it’s a good experience, even on the days that are more challenging than others.  And yes, some days are VERY challenging.  And yes, I have found that second graders can actually behave BETTER than 7th graders, which really surprised me, but shouldn’t have.  🙂

The upside to all this?

I’m being trained to expect the unexpected, try to reach the unreachable and manage the unmanageable.  I have to think on my feet and I have to creatively problem solve and at least I get to go home at the end of the day knowing I have put in a good day’s work and got paid for it.  And unlike the regular teachers, if I have a really bad day, I don’t HAVE to go back the next.

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12 Responses to Good Lord, I actually got a JOB!

  1. Papa T says:

    Nice, Mrs. RSG!

    Inspiring.

    Your wrap-up paragraph brought a big smile…expect the unexpected, reach the unreachable, manage the unmanageable…thinking on your feet…creative problem solving…the day’s end feeling of accomplishment. Sounds like life to me. 😉

    I’ve had friends and acquaintances for most of my life who had (for whatever ‘reason’) given up being engaged in life beyond the confines of their own minds — demanding that they ‘understand’ a thing or there is something unacceptable or unbearable about it. These people would fall prey to religion, or the latest Oprah-endorsed guru, or set off on an all-consuming quest for ever-increasing information — all in attempts to ‘explain’ the ‘problems’ with which they were confronted.

    And, yes, I too was one who searched in books and the heavens for truth. Now I know that this truth is only to be found in living. In quieting the noise and hearing the blood swooshing through my own body.

    I could ramble on. But I won’t. Life is for living. Each day gives us an opportunity to live.

    …if not now, then when?

    Peace.

  2. Soraya Sus says:

    Great top read you and to feel for you. I also am a mother of 2smartGirls and hoping to get a part time job/sub at a school so that I can at least have their same schedule and be with them when they are not in school. I am very happy for you and happier to be able to read your posts which have helped me in unimaginable ways. I also love the last paragraph of this post …expect the unexpected, reach the unreachable, manage the unmanageable…thinking on your feet…creative problem solving…the day’s end feeling of accomplishment. This is so true and validates all our feelings. I keep telling my older daughter (almost 6) and my husband (smartGuy) life is constant change, let’s enjoy it and BE HAPPY ❤

    • raisingsmartgirls says:

      Soraya –

      I missed this earlier, then I realized it was here after half the day went by. Sorry!

      Thanks so much for your comment.

      Good luck to you on getting the part time sub job. It’s definitely great practice for adapting to change, that is for sure. I’m so glad you have a great attitude about it.

      I am so glad you have found some inspiration in my posts, but I have to say, a LOT of my feelings and philosophies have been evolving thanks to 1) trial and error first and 2) my blogging readers who give me some new perspectives and share their wisdom too!

      Best wishes to you and your smart family!

      Casey

  3. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Papa T

    Thanks so much for your very thoughtful response. It’s wonderful to hear from you again on the blog.

    Do I feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day? Hmmm…maybe. Yeah. I think so.

    Life sure has thrown me some curveballs in the past 10 years or so, and I hadn’t been too adept at adapting to them. Things might be changing up again, and…yet…still…

    I am from a family who was extremely allergic to books and never searched spiritually beyond what was beaten into them. I have one sister whose marriage is falling apart that said to me she just has to take a stand about certain things, and she just has “no feelings” anymore about her spouse. I have another sister (the religious zealot of the family) who has graduated from wine to whiskey these days who never drank much just a short few years ago and a mother who is keeping the economy afloat with all the spending she does.

    I think there is a vast difference between living constructively and living destructively.

    Quite honestly, this post could have gone a different route…whereby I compared the shell-shocked feeling of my childhood to the shell-shocked feeling of being mocked, openly hated, and defied by mouthy middle schoolers.

    I spent the last few years softening up. I don’t know if exposing myself to that kind of environment will harden me again. I don’t want it to.

    Do I want to learn and practice compassionate detachment? Yes. Do I want to be hardened and bitter (like some of the other aides I’ve dealt with)? No.

    I’m human, Papa T. After all I’ve been through, I’ve learned the only safe place is inside. And I have to move past that and force myself to go back the next day, even when sometimes I just don’t want to. I remember something I read about recently – there are no mistakes in life, only things I try that “just don’t work” for me or a particular situation. I’ve had to call on internal resources I hadn’t even remembered I had…but that become available to me when under the kind of intense stress I used to be under all the time.

    I’ve dealt with some (as I had been told by others) “seriously behaviorally challenged” kids…and the OTHER thing I’ve learned is this:

    As a temporary aide, I don’t get to build up much of a rapport with the kids because I might be at a particular school maybe once a week. But I found that many of this kids are so labeled and pre-rejected before they even had the CHANCE to build a rapport…with ANYone.

    I had a lovely 10 minute conversation with a boy that could not sit still for 45 minutes…UNTIL I started engaging him on something he LIKED and CARED about. Then he settled down and was at peace…until I had to help out the other kids.

    Yeah, there’s more I’d like to talk about with that…but for now…gotta go.

  4. Phil says:

    Excellent news! And quite a good fit as well, as it is certainly clear to me that you are doing a fine job with your own girls, so having that extend to others is a natural. The real benefit is having same days off as your own girls, so you can spend time with them at home on their days off. Congratulations!

  5. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Hi, Phil –

    Thanks so much!

    Though, I’m not so sure it’s quite a good fit. Time-wise, yes. Personality-wise, no. I was softer on the kids than I should have been, and I got walked all over the first day I taught middle school. All my idealistic dreams of becoming a teacher some day has effectively been squashed by the harsh realities of public school education. Though I do have to say, it’s far better than where my sister teaches where they have low income families that put education last on their list of priorities.

    It’s good for now, that’s true. It might get easier as I get better at it. At least I hope so.

    I took the day off today because I had been an aide at the middle school yesterday and I have to go back for Friday-Tuesday. I need some time to recover and prepare some new strategies.

    I found a good book on classroom management at the thrift store, so I think that’s a plus. I might find some tricks and tidbits in there that might work.

    • Phil says:

      Casey, I coach a lot, and can relate to the being stern (firm maybe a better word) versus being nice routine, especially in today’s environment with little discipline allowed in the classroom. It’s better to be direct and stern initially and then ease up the reins than it is to allow the kids to get out of control and then try to rein it back into control. Better to be respected than liked. In the long run, you can only be liked if they respect you to begin with. Tough but fair. The kids actually yearn for structure; you just need to provide it to them. They learn real quickly where the boundaries are, and trust me, they’ll test them a lot.
      When I coached, the middle school kids were absolutely the worst. It seems they are unsettled, more so than high schoolers. A most difficult age socially, and developmentally.

      • raisingsmartgirls says:

        I agree, Phil, I think this is a rough age socially and emotionally.

        And I agree somewhat about structure. However…for a LOT of these kids, these lessons are BORING. They are boring to teach and they are boring to learn. I think that’s a real problem for some of these kids. The kids who are a handful are actually getting the answers RIGHT…but they are bored, and they act up out of boredom.

        How can a bland worksheet be engaging? How can going over uninteresting material they don’t care about do much to inspire them to learn?

        I can’t really blame them. I can’t. It would drive me up a wall to have to go at an unnaturally slow pace.

        Some of the children have real learning disabilities, but most of the kids who are a handful simply find the lessons uninspiring.

        I find myself agreeing with them. Why SHOULD they care about what is easy or boring to them?

        There’s only ONE acceptable way to learn – and that’s for auditory sequential learners. Nothing for the kinesthetic learners or the visual-spatial learners.

        What’s more, there are NO accommodations made that would resolve the need to fidget. So they tap their pencils, their feet or their hands on the table. Why? Because they are forced to sit in a chair for an hour and they can’t get up. They finish a problem quick and have to wait quietly for the other kids to ‘catch up’. But they can’t because they are bored waiting…so they fidget more. I know of a half a dozen products that might give these kids something quiet to do that meets the need to fidget.

        But they don’t have them in the classroom AND these kids are labeled as behavior problems.

        And…what I’ve found out…this year, they took away RECESS for the kids in 5th grade. They have to go 6.5 hours with no fresh air to run around in.

        It ain’t right.

      • raisingsmartgirls says:

        Oh yeah, another thing that bothers me….is the use of CANDY as a bribe for good test scores or good behavior or returning homework. No wonder the kids get hyper. The schools are turning these kids into sugar addicts.

  6. tara says:

    Congrats! Tomorrow I have my orientation with Head Start to be a substitute program assistant in preschool classrooms. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I’ve been out of the “mainstream” workforce for many, many years so I too will be adjusting to the extended hours in a more formal setting.

    Early in my yoga apprenticeship, I discovered a book called The Compassionate Classroom and wonder if you might find it–as well as the other educational resources from The Center for NonViolent Communication–helpful: https://www.cnvc.org/catalog/education.

  7. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Tara –

    Thank you!

    Fantastic! I’m sure you’ll do great. The first week or two might be a little rough, but I bet you’ll do adjust. You have a wonderful foundation.

    I ought to make a post about my preschool experience. It was so much fun! I played with rice and dinosaurs, blocks and got some nice hugs from the little ones.

    I’ll have to check my library for that book. I hope they have it.

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