Happy Easter, dear friends! He is risen!
We were all up and at church at 6:50 this morning to warm up with the choir for our sunrise service. It was a beautiful service, even without our planned organist. She has been battling some serious health concerns over the last few years, and in the last year had been put on the list for a liver transplant. She got the call yesterday morning, went in yesterday afternoon for the transplant surgery, and has started the long recovery process. Our pastor referenced Revelations 21:5 in his Easter sermon: “Behold, I am making all things new.” This verse is often used at funerals, but he used it to recognize the verb tense – present tense. I AM making all things new. Much of the New Testament uses the future tense…we think about a future with Christ, after death, after the Second Coming. But our pastor emphasized the Here and Now of the resurrection – especially for people like our dear organist, who literally got a “new” life in time for Easter. Wow!
|Our little family in our Easter clothes!|
Even as we celebrate our salvation in the present, my little family has been looking toward our rapidly approaching future. I am taking tomorrow off, so my school year contains a mere six Mondays (eight weeks, but only six Mondays – Mondays are always easier to count).
Six Mondays – exciting as we wrap up a successful school year, scary as Hubster still does not have official orders from the army as to where we are going to be in six Monday’s time. We assume his request to move back to Fort Wayne, Indiana to begin seminary in June will be approved, and for now we’re trying to plan out with that general assumption. This will mean the scary leap of losing our dual-income household (at least we’re debt free now!) and my becoming the primary breadwinner while Hubster takes on full-time graduate school.
I’ve loved my current teaching job. It has changed my life and career trajectory more than I ever imagined, I’ve made lifelong friends among my coworkers, and become a part of a very special community that I am loathe to leave. However, whether it be this summer or the next, we will be moving, and it’s time for me to brush up my credentials to prove myself in a new location. This is both exciting and daunting.
My First Big Girl Job
When I last was job-hunting in 2012, I had a teaching license but zero paid experience. I had to convince principals of my eligibility based a few lesson plans I agonized over during student teaching. I designed a website using Google sites in order to boost my first impression, and after fighting with the state’s Department of Education in an attempt to get my teaching license transferred, ended up with three job offers to choose from…a week before school started. Yikes! See my 2012-2013 posts for that craziness. Sure, I had a great student teaching experience, but any teacher will tell you that hardly anything prepares you for the craziness that is the first few years.
Now, I have three years of teaching under my belt, for three different grade levels and four different courses: freshman history, sophomore and junior English, and AP English Language and Composition.
I have learned a bunch of new skills, from Google Apps and SMART clickers to iPads and blogging (if you want to learn for yourself, THIS MAN is my hero in all things curricular technology).
I design most of my lessons from scratch and maintain them all in flipped classroom-style online lesson plans.
While I’m not special education certified, I’ve worked with dozens of students who fall under IEPs and 504s.
I have an awesome principal who will pick up the phone and call any school I want to teach at and tell them to hire me.
Students have offered to write me recommendations.
I know I am extremely hire-able in a city with over a dozen high schools within easy driving distance. I don’t have enough experience (or a master’s) that moves me to a higher pay bracket in most districts, so I’m still cheap to hire, but I have enough experience that shows districts they’ll get more than their money’s worth.
And yet, I find myself in a bit of a self-esteem crisis and very nervous about starting this job hunting task. I’ve started looking through the few teaching positions in Fort Wayne that have been posted, and all of them want a degree in the subject area. My sociology degree – even from Harvard – won’t help me get an English or history job.
I began the process of getting an Indiana license back in January. Because of government bureaucracy, I still don’t have a license. After numerous technological holdups on their end (don’t get me started…), a month later I finally got the thing submitted and paid for and have been “waiting for evaluation” for the last three weeks. This means I don’t officially have an Indiana license, so that section of the required part of the online applications must get left blank, which in many cases won’t let me actually submit an online application. Gah! Bureaucracy!
Some of the applications ask a series of generic questions that make me wonder if they’re hoops to jump through or if anyone actually reads the answers (if you’re in HR and can tell me, I’d love to know, as I worked really hard answering them). When I first was applying three years ago I didn’t have answers, only guesses; now I’ve dealt with difficult parents and assessed student learning and have real examples. I should be proud of myself.
My Professional Presence
I spent this afternoon brushing up my resume, website, and LinkedIn profile. I tried clicking around my connections to see what their pages looked like to see if I could use them as models, and saw just how many of my college cohort is starting to make it big – managers at Google and Microsoft, CEOs of successful start-ups and non-profit organizations, senior consultants.
I know LinkedIn is like a steroided version of Facebook in terms of putting the best foot forward. Obviously no one would put negative things on their professional networking profile, but even my friends who are teachers have these really cool descriptions that sound way above and beyond what I’ve done: “Led students to 98% passing rate on the Grade 8 Science California Standards Test (90% Advanced). Created data tracking system to drive student results. Identified yearly goals for science department, including increased laboratory time and exposure to scientific inquiry.” I know that sounds fancier than it is, but my AP pass rate last year was like…33%. I create and teach cool lessons, but I still struggle to tie them all together. This whole job search is making me question my teaching ability, and I’m only one day in!
I was reflecting with one of my co-teachers who also has spent her whole career at our little rural school. Her parents work in an urban district in the north of the state. We as a district are emphasizing “student-friendly learning objectives” and “data walks” this year. Teachers are to post the objectives each day for students to reference and internalize so they know where a lesson is going e.g. We will identify major causes of WWI. Administrators make random checks to see if objectives are posted and if the students are engaged and at what level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, then they compile the data together and discuss as departments and faculty. My co-teacher’s mom told her their district did that 3-4 years ago…now they’re onto something else. Other districts in the area have already gone to 1:1 ipad adoption at the high school level; we are just now discussing starting a pilot program with one grade in elementary school. Even though I’ve been teaching full time for three years, is it possible I’ll actually be several years behind the education curve?
My mother-in-law, a retired teacher, encouraged me when I first started teaching to join some professional associations. Today I finally paid the $45 to join the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE.org), and spent some time googling cool teaching resources for professional development. I’m wondering when I’ll have time to read the cool professional resources I’ve found…maybe this summer? I feel like I’ve grown so much as a teacher, but there is so much more to do…maybe in six Mondays, after the fourth cross-country move in four years?
I’ll keep you posted on the job hunt, and moving situation, and everything. In the meantime, I’ll go back to enjoying my sweet Easter with my sweet family.
Marieke Thomas says
You sound like a pretty ideal candidate to me, Lizzy! You have a good amount of experience, but you're young enough to adapt easily, and you're leaving your old job on excellent terms!
I think having a degree in the subject area matters a lot more for new teachers than for veterans. You should apply for those jobs anyway, and hopefully a few of them will overlook you having a different major when they see how otherwise qualified you are. Test scores will always be much more a product of the student population than the teacher quality, so I wouldn't put too much stock into that either, and I definitely don't think you need to worry about being behind the "education curve"– it's much easier to train someone on how to use an iPad than how to interact meaningfully with a teenager.
Have you tried looking at middle schools? Most teachers want to teach either elementary or high school, so there's often a lot less competition for middle school jobs.
P.S. Your online resume looks super swag!! I might separate "teaching experience" and "other experience" and add a few bullet points to your current job (since that's like 90% of what anyone interviewing you will actually care about).
Best of luck with your job search!