When I graduate Professor will be my title, but if you asked me what I was I would tell you I was a teacher.
And that's what I am. I am a teacher. I like researching. I like presenting at conferences. I like sharing my work and being published. But I am a teacher.
In the last year or so I've reflected a lot of what it means to be a teacher.
- For me, it means being a social activist.
- Being a part of the community you teach in so you know how best to serve your students, what tools they need.
- Staying on top of news, but also technology, so you can not only present the content, but do it in the best way possible.
I was not happy when I taught high school in NC. I did not feel as though my work was appreciated, or that I was valued. But I think that had very little to do with my teaching and my students and everything to do with the environment. A small, rural, conservative Southern town was also not a great fit.
I was happy teaching in Brooklyn. I liked living in the neighborhood I taught. I loved my students. I knew my work, showing up every day, mattered and made an impact.
Every Friday I have set aside for applying to whatever new academic jobs have posted. This past Friday I applied to English Education jobs because my teaching experience makes me uniquely qualified to teach future English teachers.
It meant revising, and rethinking my application materials.
And I started thinking of other back up plans. And back up plan is the wrong phrase. It's more like alternate lives. Paths to take.
I've spent a lot of time on my runs with Nehi thinking about what happens next. Imagining our lives in a year. Where will we be? What will we be doing? Am I this person? That person? It's interesting to try on the imagining of a life and walk around in it, see if it fits.
Am I the type of person that could be happy working for the federal government?
Would I be happy working for the National Park Service?
What do these day to day lives look like?
Which road am I on?
And then I circle back to what I am. I am many things, but I am at heart I am a teacher. Have been since making my sister sit still so I can "teach" her through the McGuffey readers we had.
So I did some more research today, in between reading Old English scholarship, on teaching certification for high school in Albuquerque.
This plan has many benefits.
- My National Board teaching certification is recognized in New Mexico, so once I apply I'm automatically certified.
- It would be a salaried, benefited job.
- New Mexico has posted record teaching shortages, so I'm pretty sure I could get a job without a problem.
- It would mean saving money (as I'm currently living on $14,400 a year and student loans).
- It would mean no moving expenses, because my landlord loves me and I would just stay here.
It's not without issues, mainly Nehi. She's used to me being home. And she's crate trained. Eight hours is the limit of her crate, and a school day is usually longer than that. Yet I know people have dogs they leave longer than that for when they're at work, so I imagine we could work it out.
So, that's where we are today.
Me returning to high school teaching is back on the table. So I guess I need to start practicing not swearing again.
I've gotten a lot of snarky, condescending, comments about my posts of back up plans, alternate paths. Been told I'm giving up, that getting my PhD has been a waste of time, along those lines. The thing is, after Mom died, I needed something different. I wanted to see if I could do this, spread my wings some.
So no matter what happens, I don't think this is a waste of time. It has ensured I can do more than I could three years ago. That I had more opportunities. Which I do. So I wouldn't trade it.
I still want to be a unicorn. I still want an academic job as a professor.
But we'll see...