[OK, I started writing this on the posting date. It was too painful to work on again until I felt there was some resolution. Check the next post for that.]
I'm unemployed as of June. Well, technically August, because that's how long my contract is, officially. But when this school year ends, I will no longer be a math teacher at Central Jr. High.
My principal, Dr. Stubblefield, let me know that this might happen last Friday morning [early April], right before my classes started. Let me tell you, that was not a pleasant way to start my Friday. One of my favorite coworkers, Charlotte Prosser, came and offered to cover the first ten minutes of my class. That was very kind, but I figured that all I would do was sit and think about how crappy my situation was, and that if I were going to be miserable, I might as well be doing my job (teaching jr. high students!).
By the end of the day, I had sort of settled into the idea, though. My intention had always been to spend three years teaching at the jr. high level before deciding whether or not I liked it. Perhaps this is God's way of telling me that I don't really need three years, or maybe not three at this school.
I should have been applying feverishly for every position within an hour's drive of our home, but I was also trying to juggle the last few assignments for my Baker class.
Finishing the year was tough. The kids always get antsy the last few weeks of school, and when the teacher is unfocused, as I was, it's even worse. And when the teacher spends the last two months in deep uncertainty and feeling unappreciated, things can get much, much worse.
I finished my course work with no problem, but was still left with the burden of being between jobs. I had been telling people that I was unemployed until someone told me that I was being too negative. She asked me if I thought that I would have a job again in the future. "Of course," I replied. "So you are between jobs!" she asserted. I have been using this terminology in an attempt to bootstrap myself into a better mood. It didn't make me happy, but if the alternative was feeling worse, I'm glad I did it.
Job application season came and went. I sent resumes and applications for any math job within an hour drive of our home. I just couldn't see doing much more driving than that and having anything left of myself to give to my family. A one-hour drive would mean leaving for work around 6:30 a.m. and probably not getting home until 6:00 p.m. Later than that for the first few weeks, as I adjust to new circumstances and plan out courses I haven't taught before, perhaps earlier if the school/district has tight plans in place or the material is familiar to me. And this was basing driving times on GoogleMaps rather optimistic projections.
There were not many openings available. The Kansas Dept. of Education website has a job connections page. It is not mandatory for schools to list on the site, but most do. The site keeps track of the total number of jobs and the total number of applicants. At the beginning of summer there were about 220 teaching jobs listed, all subjects, all grade levels. At that time there were more than 23,000 applicants. I came to wish that I had never looked at those statistics, because it's been burned into my mind: more than a hundred applicants for each job, on average. Maybe the odds were in my favor as a math teacher, but it takes a lot of swaying to balance out that much competition.
I had two years of part-time teaching in America, and an online teaching certificate from a small university. Of course, in Lawrence K.U. provides a deluge of freshly trained teachers every year, with their student teaching done right here in town. Hard to pass up, with all that energy, youth, and the option to sleep ten hours a night.
This is a difficult topic for me, as it draws me into being bitter easily. There have been nights when I've been unable to sleep, replaying some choices made over the past few years and felt the heaviest regret of my life. I've thought about how fascinating and fun my post-college life was, how different my life has been, and wished that I had just gotten a job and married someone before I realized how big the world is.
Usually at this point I realize I am throwing myself a big self-pity party, and do something to get out of it. It's been harder this time, and I'm not quite out of the woods yet. But rest assured that the party is over, and we have a plan.