Occupation: Almost Unemployed

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So you may have noticed from the last post, that I am looking for a new job. It occurred to me that I haven't really talked a whole lot about my career change here, and frankly, it's been on my mind a lot lately, so, we're going to talk about it. More funny tomorrow, I promise.

When I got to college, I was all about being a lawyer. I wanted to save the world, become president and bring about the all-elusive world peace. With time and age, I realized that I was a lunatic. I could not save the world, I would not be president, and I could not produce peace, despite my deep desire to. And about that time, the registrar sent me an email that said, you must declare your major by Friday or we'll start fining you until you do. Er. Hrm.

So I looked at my transcript, which read like a palate of different flavored classes: Economics, History, English, Diplomacy and World Affairs, Cognitive Science, Geology, etc. And then I found which category had the most units, and that subject became my major. And that, friends, is how I came to get a Bachelor's in History. I do enjoy history, but it has become evident since my graduation from college 3 years ago that it is not a very functional degree. I can be a student working toward something else, or I can be a teacher.

For a long time, I thought I wanted to be the latter. I minored in education and began a credential program in California right after college. And from day 1, I was great at it. I know that sounds really boastful, but there are very few things I am naturally good at, and teaching was just one of them. I could write a mean lesson plan, I could be creative and I could get a point across. It also become evident almost as quickly, that I hated teaching. Well, maybe not hated, but definitely did not enjoy it.

I tried to convince my family that I had made a horrible mistake and that I needed to stop before I got myself farther into debt than I already was, but everyone insisted on and on that I see the program through and give it a try (my mother, father and step-mother were all teachers and are now all administrators). So I did. Mostly just because what the hell else could I do? So I got a teaching credential and a job. I have now taught for 2 years, the same subject (oddly not history) to the same age students. And in 6 work days, I will officially be unemployed. I will be a retired teacher. I will be part of the statistic about teachers who quit within the first 5 years of starting.

Teaching is such a remarkably noble profession. I wish it was for me, I really do. The students absolutely kill me, there's not a day that goes by that one of them doesn't say something that almost knocks me over with laughter. When a student raised her hand and asked me what a "pah-shio" was the other day, I simultaneously laughed and cringed when I discovered that the word was, in fact, patio. But in all seriousness, I love relating to them, helping them, being a support for them. But I do not like teaching them. I cannot handle students who waste their potential. I cannot handle laziness. I cannot handle quitting. I never realized before how big of a problem this was for me than I did today when I was grading a quiz where a student had given up and written the answer "I don't know" in the blank space for the answer. Some of these kids are wasting their potential and it just rips me up inside. I've learned that though I genuinely want the best for them, I really cannot provide it. I can't motivate the unmotivated and I can't stand aside and let them fail either.

I want to make a difference, and I think that's why I thought I might make a good teacher. And I have arguably been a fairly good teacher. I have gotten through the curriculum with time to spare and am seeing great improvements in my students' standardized test scores. I've taught them. I've imparted wisdom. But being good at it just isn't making it fulfilling. I have not once in the past year and a half, awakened in the morning excited to go to work. I know it sounds dramatic, but I really only go because I know I have to. Because I'm out of sick days (and then some). Because I need to get a paycheck. Because I signed a contract and I will keep my word.

About a year ago I realized that my passion wasn't gone, it was just somewhere else. Somewhere that required more schooling, learning, training and time. So I've been taking 2 classes and a lab each semester to try and get everything I need to eventually enter this new program. If everything goes according to plan (which it almost never does) and I'm able to get into a program in the same place that The Fiance matches, I will graduate from this new program at the age of 29. I will have taken out more loans than I can even really calculate in my head right now and more than anything else, I hope to God I will find the fulfillment I have been so desperately searching for.

In 6 work days I will finish packing up my classroom, I will turn in my gradebook and teacher's edition textbook and I will drive away from my job, my coworkers, my students and hopefully, dive headfirst into something completely new. It feels like for the first time I'm finally doing what I WANT to do, instead of what I've been told I need to do. It's like I'm finally in control of my life.

And I'm scared out of my mind and thrilled, all at the same time.

7 comments:

Cathy in MI said...

Ha Ha, I just have to tell you I arrived at my Bachelor's in History in the same way you did... I got to a point where I wanted to graduate sooner rather than later and that is the one area I had the most credits. I considered going on for a Masters in Library Science. Then we moved to an area without a school with that program. I signed up with a temp agency and got a job in accounts payable that turned into a full time position. I eventually moved into payroll and now I am an IT Analyst. I have never really used my History degree but at least I have that four year degree out of the way. I often think of going back to school but that hasn't happened yet. You may have many student loans but good for you for not sticking it out in teaching if it's not what you want to do forever. Good Luck with your future schooling.

nola said...

I do hope this is the right path for you. It does make a lot of difference. We spend way too much time working not to really enjoy it! Good for you for going for it and leaving the "sure thing."

Lanny said...

Good for you for going after what makes you happy! I think the world would be a better place if more people did.

Good luck!

Flea said...

Well good for you. My degree's in education. I tried changing start of junior year when it was apparent it was definitely not a fit, but my parents and grandparents talked me out of it. I didn't wind up teaching until I had children and home schooled. A good move. A very bad move. Now, at 40, I'm in grad school. Good, good, GOOD for you.

Becs said...

Good for you! I am very envious as I wish I could be that brave myself. I am stuck in a job that I do not like but I don't know another path to take right now. So instead I am just sitting around waiting to find something I am passionate about.

Good luck!

DeeDee said...

Well, good luck on your new endeavor. I have a Bachelor's in Psychology that is sitting in my bedroom floor amptly collecting dust. My husband said I would never do anything with it and don't tell him I told you this but he is most likely correct. I'm 33 and have no clue what I want to do once I go back into the real world since right now I'm a stay at home mom. I've thought about going to school for a Master's but in what I haven't decided. I LOVE the field of psychology but come on I live in redneckvill USA and they don't need anyone to tell them they are crazy...they all already know it!

Travelbully.net said...

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This occupation isn't for everyone and most teachers are skeptical because they aren't used to having the opportunity to make this much money and have fun at the same time. They are socialized by the schools to follow the system and to only think within the boundaries of the "system" It's what they teach, its what they live.

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Anyway, good luck with your endeavors!