Thursday, May 17, 2012

Priorities and Changes

I sit here in my newly clean classroom that is only mine for the next 48 minutes. It reminds me so much of when I first got here. I was new teacher with no idea what to expect from the nine months ahead of me, kind of like an expectant mother. I was proud of my accomplishment, of finally getting a job. Now I have similar feelings. I'm proud of surviving my first year of teaching. So many people have told me today that I did a good job my first year teaching. I'm not sure what proof I have of that, but I appreciate their thoughts.

So I am trying again to get a job, but I am proud of my accomplishments this year. I have learned that I'm a lot nicer than I thought I was. I need to work on my classroom management and --no surprise here-- my organization. Just as at the end of college, I have to take what I've learned and put it towards next year.

Yesterday I received a letter from a friend of mine who is going to Poland on a mission trip. I had recently told him about losing my job, and he was very supportive. He reminded me of what my priorities should be. This in turn reminded me of one of my favorite verses.
"28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose."Romans 8: 28

I need to trust God not to change my life for the worse, but accept that there is a reason for everything I'm experiencing right now. At least I'm young and un-attached, so I don't have to uproot family to do all this moving around. It's tough for someone like me who dislikes sudden change to give up control of a situation, and just let it be. I still have preferences for where to live, but if I don't let it go soon, it'll drive me up the wall. So continue praying for me, and I hope that these realizations will help me accept whatever change happens in the next couple of months.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Moving on....

"Aren't you angry Ms. Gillis?" "Why aren't you asking for your job back?" 

These are just a few of the comments I received from students when they found out about me not coming back next year. They don't understand necessarily how tenure works, or how the number of students determines how many principals we're allowed or any of that. I'm an adult. I knew something like this would happen; I've mentioned it before. Now I'm focusing on putting in applications for jobs in other counties. 

Today was bittersweet at best. It more or less stunk. I was missing like 50% of my kids. The other 50 % wanted to escape. Who could blame them? Summer is an exciting time for them. For me, it means another summer spent in the middle of a living room floor filling out applications....80% of which I will never receive any sort of feedback on 95% of which I will never get an interview for. (I totally made up those statistics, but with over 50 applications, 3 interviews, and of course 1 job offer last year, I can't be that far off on the math.) It's a lot of tedious paperwork to get a random job, in a likely inconvenient place. 

I hate job hunting. I hate driving to random places for interviews. (Granted I've never had to drive to an interview myself, but I just hate driving in general.) I hate moving. I hate uprooting what little life I managed to establish while in Hoptown to move to an unknown location. I know that hate is a strong word, but pretty much it describes how I feel about change. I hate the idea of being alone in the middle of nowhere again. 

So as much as I've accepted the fact that I no longer have a job, and that I understand why I do not have a job, I am still having trouble thinking positively about the whole experience. Everyone tells me to look at it as an adventure, but I am not an adventurous person. They joke that I will meet the man of my dreams or find an even better job, but until I can find a place I'm going to stick around for longer than eleven months at a time, I can't even think about establishing relationships. Leaving my friends is hard enough. 

I poured everything I could into this job and into my life here. I tried to get established at a church, I tried making new friends, and I even managed to find a good towing company and auto body shop. Now I somehow have to come up with enough energy and courage to possibly do that again. This summer will not be fun for me. I will probably worry and obsess and do what I always do when faced with a problem that probably isn't that big of a deal. Then of course there is the challenge if I do get a job of somehow getting established at the school. Being a "new teacher" in a school makes me tired just thinking about it. I no longer have "zero" experience, but I will still have a lot of unknowns. 

I'm trying to not think to far ahead of myself. I know what I need to do first. I need to get moved out of my classroom. I need to get all my appointments in to doctor's before my insurance runs out. I need to clean my apartment, so I have a place to work that doesn't make me even crazier than I already am. I need something else to do other than fill out applications, or else I really will go crazy. I have no idea what that may be. Most importantly I need some prayers right now, because I'm not sure I can do this myself. 

As upset as I am right now, I have been very blessed to be here in Hopkinsville. I have met some wonderful people, and learned so many things about myself. Maybe I won't have to go so far, or if I do, I'll at least be closer to family, so I won't be so alone. This year, I was just thrilled to get a job. It didn't matter so much to me that it was far away from home. Now I find that home has changed, though Knoxville will always be home, because that's where mom and dad are. I found home in Hopkinsville by throwing myself into my work with my kids and by doing so making some really great connections with wonderful people who I was blessed to call my coworkers. They became my new family. I love them, and I know many of them love me. Maybe Hoptown was just a stepping stone to greater things, but if that's the case, God's setting me up for a life that is better than I deserve. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Back to the drawing board.

Being a first year teacher, it didn't come as a shock to me that I was getting laid off this year. I feel I have grown and learned so much this first year, that I was hoping it wouldn't happen, but I knew it could be a definite possibility. So a little over a week ago, on a Friday, I stayed after to talk to my principal about whether or not I had a job. She confirmed my suspicions exactly. They were having to demote one of our assistant principals, because we just don't have the numbers to get funding to have an extra principal. Sadly, that means I'll be moving on. That could mean something as small as a different school in the same area, or even as drastic as moving across the state.

It turns my stomach in knots to think about leaving Hoptown. My kids ran me ragged this year, but I really love them to death. As many times as I was frustrated with them, there were times when I was so proud and full-filled in my work too. I have students that I am definitely sorry to leave. Some were even requesting me as their teacher. I guess life is full of disappointments on many sides. I have no idea how far away my job search will lead me, but I know I will more than likely not be at Hoptown High. There is a small possibility that the numbers would change, that we'd need another Social Studies teacher, or that someone would leave, but in all seriousness, I don't hold out much hope for it.

The only hope I have is that I'll find a job near where I have found my new friends and new life here in Christian County or one of the surrounding counties, or I will find a job closer to Knoxville and my family. Either way, I would at least not be completely bereft of any support system. I felt so alone when I first moved to Hopkinsville; I do not relish the thought of winding up that way again. It seems that so many jobs are up near Cincinnati, and I must go where I can be useful.

I feel a little bit like Mary Poppins. Ok, so I haven't jumped through any pictures lately or made any carousels come to life, but I feel a little like I'm abandoning my kids. Perhaps, they don't need me anymore. If I have taught them anything this year, I hope I taught them to be more kind to new teachers. It is not as easy to teach as some teachers can make it look. It's not easy to be cussed at and maintain enough composure to make it through a lesson. It's not easy to make up a lesson when your original plan falls through. It's not easy to get up and move, and be able to come prepared on the first day of school.

I know for certain I wasn't ready for the first day of school this year. If I was able to stay here, I would be more confident in my start next year, but since I have no idea where I'll be or when I'll get hired, the plans are a lot more fuzzy. I do not know if I'll be teaching the subjects I taught this year, or if I'll be thrown into a new area of Social Studies. I don't know what kind of kids I'll be teaching, what kind of background the area will have, or what kind of people I'll be working with. I did, however, learn a lot about what not to do, so hopefully, I will make a few less mistakes.

I was by no means the perfect first year teacher, but my principal says that she would have kept me if she could. I find that encouraging, since she's writing my recommendations. There are many things that I can work on, but I know what my weaknesses are, and I focus on how to solve them. I love teaching, and as grueling and tasking as the students at HHS can be, I still want to teach. Those kids were probably the best test of whether or not I was cut out to be a teacher. I may not have been the person to ace the test, or pass it gracefully, but I'm certain I'm in it for as long as I still enjoy it.

Today I was told my one of my students from student teaching that I was his favorite teacher ever. I have no idea what I did to deserve such praise, but it made me feel better just the same. It's hard to move on when you've found students you love, and you want to continue helping. But the student I talked to today along with some of my current students are living proof that wherever I go I make an impact in some way. I may not always feel like I am successful, and I may not even be successful immediately, but I do have an impact, hopefully for the better. I do know this....they've impacted me for the better.

When I was just a child in school, I asked my teacher, "What should I try?" "Should I paint pictures?" "Should I sing songs?" Here was her wise reply: " Que sera sera, Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see. Que sera sera. What will be, will be."