/* open id delegation ---------------------------------------------- */

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RBOC: Really random and really boring edition

Things I feel compelled to share with someone, even if that someone is the hypothetical people of the Internet:

- Thanks for all the congratulations. When I think about moving to the Southwest and teaching in Large City I alternate between feeling an anxiety induced nauseating terror, and a guarded hopeful optimism. My time is currently split about 75:25 (Terror:Optimism). I'm expecting the two to average out a bit more as time goes on. At least, I'm hoping the two average out a bit more as time goes on.

- The State University, which will be a conveniently short drive from where I will be moving, has an interdisciplinary PhD program in Applied Linguistics with a concentration in Educati0nal Linguistics. I dream of some day applying to the program. It's doubtful that it will ever happen, but a girl can dream.

- I just impulse bought a new book. I realized I still had gift card money left on my Amazon account, and decided to spend some of it.

- Today I taught a third grader about the "cut" and "paste" functions on word processing programs. It was awesome -
Student: "Ms. Grownup, I typed my introduction down here at the bottom, at the end of everything else. But I need to make it be up at the top because it's the intro."

"Okay. Highlight what you want to move, and then press "apple" and "X" at the same time on the keyboard. And don't freak out because what you have highlighted is going to disappear.

"Okay." (She held down the apple and the X keys, and gasped. Because everything disappeared!)

"Good. Don't worry, it'll come back. Now click where you want the paragraph to go. And then type "apple" and "V" at the same time."

(She did as instructed, and her paragraph appeared at the top of the page.) "Whoa!! Neat! How'd it do that?!

She then jumped up and ran to teach this super-cool new cut/paste feature to a friend. I love technology and teaching kids how to use it to their advantage.
- I had a conversation with a student about mammoth extinction. He was insisting that "no one will ever know why mammoths are extinct." I was trying to ascertain whether that was something he had read somewhere, or something he was making up. Since I do know several different theories people have as to why mammoths have become extinct. I tried to explain archeology to him in a very, very small nutshell. I think he was starting to get it, but then we had to change subject.

- Also with the same student; he said that no one would ever know what happened to mammoths until we died. I asked how we would know when we died -
Student: "Because we'll be in heaven" he reasoned.

"Okay, but how will that help us know about the mammoths?" I continued to question.

"Because the mammoths will be in heaven too and so we'll be able to know then. Because all animals go to heaven and people and mammoths are animals.

"Okay," I relented. That was well-enough reasoned for me for the moment.
- I finally watched Juno. I cried at the end when she was giving up the baby. I kind of hate that I cried at the end when she gave up the baby. I don't know what to think about that movie. (I know my reaction is a half a year too late. I'm slow to watch movies.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I made a (terrifying) life decision!

So... I did it. I took a leap, made a decision, and faxed in my signed "letter of intent" to work at an urban school district in a large city in the Southwest. I won't know until the end of May what grade or at what school I will be teaching.

Shortly after I submitted my intent, I received a phone call informing me that I was being offered another job! This, a position at a school district in a rural border community in the Southwest. This was a position that I had been flirting with the idea of, but didn't think that I would actually be offered. Apparently though, I did a good job of convincing the (phone) committee who interviewed me that I was seriously considering moving to this very rural border community. And I was seriously considering it. I would have loved to for so many reasons; I enjoy the rural lifestyle, I student taught in a small, kind of run-down, sleepy town and really liked that feeling, I would be working with the student demographic who interests me, and the district would be close to Mexico which is always neat. And also the people who interviewed me seemed really nice (my would be principal, a coworker, an assistant, and a parent) - when I voiced concern about being able to find a place to live down there if I were offered the job, they all reassured me that the town has a great community, and I would always be able to find a couch or floor to sleep on if I couldn't find an apartment right away. However, the one huge downside would have been the fact that this town is so rural - 2+ hours away from the closest medium-sized city, and I would have very few "peers" in the town.

So...I guess it's a good thing that I eliminated this rural border possibility by accepting the offer in the Large City before I was forced to make a decision between the two.

(And, embarrassingly, it is a little boost to my self-esteem that there are two districts who wanted me (and well, maybe more had I turned down this first offer and waited to hear back from other places).)

In trying to convince myself that I made the right choice (because I did and it will be good) I will make a list of the positive aspects of moving to the Southwest and working in this district.

1. The students come from the demographic I would like to work with.
2. The district has a new teacher mentoring program, which, even if poorly implemented, should be better than no new teacher mentoring program. (Right?)
3. The district is located within fairly close proximity to a University with a pretty strong Education program. (For my grad school aspirations.)
4. The southwest has nice weather.
5. I get to start an adventure!

Of course, there are downsides as well.
1. The Southwest is really far from the Midwest. (Google maps charts it as longer than one full day/24 hours by car.)
2. What if I hate the heat and sunshine? After all, I'm used to wearing long underwear through mid-April. What if I miss the absurd clothing layering I go through to keep warm in winter?
3. I'm very pale and have a family history of skin cancer. I will have to liberally apply sunscreen every day. (It sounds ridiculous, but it's true.)
4. I don't know how to make friends. How does one make friends in the real world? I have absolutely no ties with anyone in Large City, or even in Southwestern State at all. (This I would have to go through most anywhere.)
5. What if I really do like it and never want to move back to the Midwest?

Regardless of the "pluses" and "minuses," I made a decision and I am excited. I'm taking a risk and we'll see what happens! I will experience my dream of living among cacti, (well, when I leave the city). I do know, from past life events, that I adjust quite well to new places, and this will be another opportunity for me to experience a great adjustment. This will be at the least a year of my life, at the most...who knows?

Whatever it is, it will be good.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

So confused!

Last weekend I was offered a job at a school district in Large City in Southwestern state. I have to let them know within the next...four days whether or not I want to work for their district. I don't know what school I would work at or what grade I would teach.

There are other schools I am waiting to hear back from. Some schools I have done screening interviews with, and the screening interviews went fine, I think they went pretty well.

So I have several theoretical options, one true option, and a handful of most-likely-not options.

I have no idea what to do. Do I take the one offer I've been given? Do I decline and wait to hear back from other schools (most of whom are just now starting to hire externally) and just hope that someone else will hire me? I don't know, I don't know, Idon'tknow.

I don't want to be snotty and decline this offer, which would be a great offer. There are a lot of things I really like about the district. The demographic is one I really want to work with (high percentage of English language learners). There seems to be a fairly strong new-teacher mentoring type program. I think the pay is okay.

With all these positives going for it, shouldn't I just take the job and be done with it? I wouldn't have to worry anymore. I would still interview with principals to see which school I would end up working at, so not everything would be decided. But it would be so nice to just know. To be done with all this uncertainty.

On the other hand, I don't want to just take the first thing thrown at me. My other theoretical possibilities are good too. I think I would be happy enough at any one of them. In general I'm a fairly optimistic and go-with-the-flow person overall, so I truly feel that I would meld myself to fit anywhere. But these theoretical possibilities are just that - theoretical. They aren't offers. What if I declined this one offer I've been given, and then no one else wants to hire me? Then, I'm the idiot without a job who could have had a job had she been less choosy or indecisive or over-confident.

The thing is, in the long run, it just does not matter. Most of these places would be completely new-to-me places, so I would have to learn to adapt to the new city and the new job. And if I teach for a year or two, and absolutely hate it, I can pick up and go somewhere else to teach. I can give up teaching and apply to attend graduate school full time. I can give up teaching and apply for a completely different type of job. I am so lucky that I have the ability to decide to move wherever I want to and live there for however long I want to (as long as it ends with the school year - I would never desert a class in the middle of the school year).

My "endless possibilities" are frustratingly open. I have nothing holding me back from going anywhere, really. And I have no real preference, really. So this decision thing is causing a whole lot of mental anguish.

I guess, in four days, I will have made some decision. Whatever decision that ends up being. (In the meantime, I have more interviews scheduled, to add to the confusion. I wish people would stop interviewing me.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Filling out all those applications pays off.


I got offered a teaching job at a school district in a Large City in Southwestern State.

I haven't a clue as to what I should do about it.

I have to decide within the next 10 days, though.

In the meantime, I am waiting to hear something back from a school district I interviewed with in a Medium-Large City in Southwestern State (I should hear back within the next 3 days), and I have a phone interview scheduled with a school district in a Rural-Border-Town in Southwestern State in about a week.

I had this whole complicated Life Plan set up with a very specific schedule that I hoped to follow. Up until this point, I had been following the schedule, but then was worried that I wasn't going to be able to find a teaching job by April as I had originally hoped - especially after so many people I talked to told me that they didn't get hired for their first jobs until July or August. Now though, with things oddly speeding up, I might know really soon. Like, within the next 10 days. A thought that is simultaneously terrifying and an incredible relief.

Additionally, I think that I love interviews. Really, where else do you get a captive audience to listen to you spout out your educational goals/philosophy/beliefs/experiences for 30+ minutes? It's fun! Really fun! I want to a job fair, scheduled four interviews - three with schools I wanted to work at, and the fourth at a school I didn't really care for but thought I'd interview with anyway. When I was told that one of the schools would offer me a position, I canceled the last interview. But I almost went through with it anyway, just for the experience of it all. Interviews can go up there on the list of things that seem very out of character for me to enjoy, but which I nonetheless am competently and confidently able to pull off. (I am incredibly quiet, very introverted, and though I deny being shy people don't believe me. However, I am always excited to give presentations or speeches, and an interview must go into that category somehow.) At least, I'm competent and confident from my perspective, this may or may not be indicative of my actual performance during interviews, but regardless, I feel good about it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Ramblings about teaching applications and a plea for help.

After much (much) deliberation, I finally decided to apply to work as a classroom teacher at the school I currently work at (as an aid-type-person). I absolutely love the school, the staff, and the students. So I'm not quite sure why it was such a tough decision, and why I still don't really think I want to work at this school permanently (or at least semi-permanently). I think I had hoped to get at least a little bit further away from home, even if I continue to live in Home State. This is actually the first application I have submitted to a school in Home State, so maybe that's where my conflict lies. Also, I work at a small school and I know all 28 kids who would be my students next year. And I'm not sure how them and all their energy will fit into the classroom that would be mine. (Again, this is all silly theoretical stuff, since I haven't even been granted an interview for the job yet. I've gotta avoid counting, housing, and feeding all my chicks before I've even gotten the eggs.)

Aside from that application, I have applied to work at, I think, seven schools in Southwestern State, three schools in College State, and one school in Midwestern State Neighboring College State. Apparently, that only puts me at 12 applications. Considering the fact that I spend all my energy researching schools and filling out applications, it certainly feels like more than just 12. Also, I think I probably need to throw a lot more applications out there.

Luckily, filling out these applications is a bit like pulling off a band-aid. The first 8 or so caused bouts of nail-biting and intense introspection. By now though, I've gotten the basic cover letter down and I've answered enough of those "short answer" type questions that I have a basis for those too. I only obsess over applications for like 5 days now, as opposed to the two weeks of days yore.

My current worry is the teaching portfolio. While my college prepared me wonderfully for a career in education grad-school, they did not do a whole lot to help me figure out how to get a job. This includes absolutely no discussion of a teaching portfolio beyond the statement that, "you should have one." This puts me at a disadvantage over those people who spent their whole student teaching creating beautifully scrapbooked/crafted/html-ed teaching portfolios. If anyone has any advice on what a teaching portfolio should include or look like, I would very much appreciate some ideas.