Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Best Job Application Question

As you know, I have been "funemployed" this summer.  Also known as unemployed.  I have enjoyed my time off tremendously.  It was a much needed and very restful break.

And now I am CrAzY. 

I don't do not being busy well.  I never have.  I get irritable and insane (sorry, Josh). 

So, I opened an account with USA Jobs (the hiring search engine and application service for the federal government) and filled out a few applications.  While answering questions for one, I stumbled across this little gem:

"Have you successfully dealt with a disruption to regular operations in a way that allowed for completion of the work or continuation of a noncritical service?"

And I laughed hysterically.  If I were to get an interview, I would have to have Josh practice with me repeatedly. 

Have I dealt with a disruption?   Where should I start?

Let's see.  I was teaching Pre-K and the class was assembled on the carpet.  We were singing some song or other about counting or the alphabet, when Sahara started projectile vomiting everywhere.  No friends, projectile vomit is not confined to The Exorcist.  It is a real, disgusting thing.  I think she hit the carpet, the tile, the bathroom floor and the toilet (the actual toilet, not in the toilet) six times before I was able to aim her in the toilet.  Then, once she was successfully dispatched to the nurse (with trash can in hand), we resumed the lesson while waiting for Mr. Bustamante (best custodian ever) to come clean up the room.

Oh bodily fluids. 

We had another day when Jeannette became suddenly and seriously ill.  She had been fine, then suddenly started vomitting on her desk.  I don't know if it surprised her or what, but there was no attempt to even reach the trash can or alert me to the onset of the situation.  But the desk is quickly vomit covered.  So, we get her headed in the direction of the nurse and I page the office to let them know that we need some clean-up action, which they assure me will happen soon.  Does anyone come?  No.  So we must vacate that part of the room and continue learning.  With the vomit congealing on the desk.  Yay.

Another time I sent a kid with a vomitty trash can to the nurse and the child went home, but the trash can was returned with vomit to my classroom.  Because I really wanted that.

Okay, I will leave the gross disruption stories for now.  Poor Josh was regaled with stories and information about lice the other night, but I think that I've probably grossed you out enough for this post.  Lesson, though?  Kids and their body fluids are gross.

Oh!  Who remembers Chucky Baby?  Remember that his mom called him, "Sexy?"  (Check the earlier posts, circa 2008, if you don't know what I'm talking about.)  Once, the kids had to create stick horses in honor of the rodeo.  A lot of my kids struggled to express themselves orally well and so we did "presentations" of our stick horses.  The presentation consisted of stating the horse's name and his or her favorite thing to do.  Most horses enjoyed eating McDonald's and playing at the McDonald's playground and there were a variety of names.  Then, little Miranda gets up and announces that her horse's name is "Sexy."  Which results in an all-out outburst from Jose aka Chucky Baby aka Sexy, who screams from the carpet, "NO!!!  HE'S NOT SEXY!  I'M SEXY!  I'M SEXY!"  What do I have to do?  Stop outburst, resume teaching, try not to laugh hysterically.

That child alone accounts for many disruptions.  At some point, he was banned from the carpet and acquired his own personal desk and chair behind the carpet.  This was accompanied by a square of masking tape in which he was required to stay during carpet time.  He could do anything he wanted in the square as long as he was quiet, participated and stayed in the square.  That is, until, we had to define "anything" to exclude putting his chair on top of the desk and sitting in it.

Hmmm...any other disruptions? 

Now my second year, I had this kid DJ who was beyond trying.  He is largely the reason that none of my future children will have any name that can be shortened into an initial plus a J.  It may even be that none of them can have a j in their name.  However, here's a positive and funny DJ story:

I'm teaching something third grade related.  It's a math lesson of some sort, nothing special really.  It's likely a multiplication review or something similarly drab.  But it's enthralling enough for DJ who stands up midlesson, raises his hand heavenward and yells, "Thank you, Jesus!  Teach it Ms. Stacy!  Yeah, Jesus!  Preach it, Ms. Stacy!"  Stifling (barely) laughter, the lesson continues.

Once I was reading a story, sitting in my rocking chair at the front of the room.  It's No David, so it's kind of an exciting story, especially when David escapes from the bathtub and goes running stark naked down the street (this is, of course, accompanied by four-year-old commentary, including, "I can see his little colita!").  But really, I'm not sure what warrants this reaction.  I'm wearing open-toed shoes (which I learn are not good for this particular job.  who knew?) and Aaron bends over mid-story and bites my toe.  Really?  What choice do I have but continue the lesson?  After, of course, the principal who happened to be observing, escorts Aaron from the room.  Whereupon he bites her.  This was Aaron's last day of Pre-K.

So many more stories.  But, for now, I am tired and will continue again in another post. 

Maybe next time I will start with lice instead of vomit. ;)  Just kidding.


Job Search Update

As of late, I have been applying for jobs.  Last week, I accepted a job performing hearing screenings at a hospital.  I'm very excited about it.  I think that it's exactly what I've been looking for, at least for now.

I don't know if I will stop my job search here; it's part time and it's definitely outside the spectrum of what I was considering.  However, my friend, Melanie, helped me get this job and she indicated that she thought there was room for growth in the job (how exciting!  I haven't had a job with room for growth!).  Additionally, I keep feeling a nudge toward the healthcare industry.  Repeatedly.  Sort of in the same way that Teach for America kept cropping up before and during the application process.  Scary. 

For example, my friend Ellen in Houston (who I really miss) once suggested that I check out something called Child Life.  Child Life professionals work in hospitals and help kids get through procedures by educating them and distracting them, as well as work with their parents and siblings and help keep things as light as possible for the kids.  It's still something that interests me, but I'd have to go back to school and I'm not ready to commit to that yet.  I'd love to go back to school.  I love learning and being in the classroom (as a student).  I don't even mind taking tests.  But returning to school is a commitment and it costs a lot of money.  I'd hate to take classes and get certified in something that I'm not really interested in before I know that this is the path to which I want to commit. 

The idea of nursing has also been knocking around my head for awhile.  But, again, going back to school.  Lots of school.  And nursing is hard in many of the same ways that teaching is hard.  We'll see.

So, in the meantime, I think that this will be a great fit.  Maybe this is part of the message that I've been waiting to receive.  I don't believe in coincidences, but I do believe in Plans for our lives.  So, maybe this is part of mine.  :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Job Seeking

So as you may or may not know, I have left teaching. 

Since I have moved back to Virginia, a number of people have asked what I'm going to do for work and so many people have asked where I'm going to look to teach.  And when I tell them I'm not, I have gotten a lot of horrified reactions from people.  "What?!  Why not?!  We need good teachers!"

They're right.  We do need good teachers.  Teachers are the backbone of society and I respect my friends and colleagues who have stayed in the profession.  Teachers are also underpaid, overworked and completely disrespected.  There were so many times that I would meet new people and the usual conversation would ensue.  "Where are you from?"  "What do you do?"  "Oh," slight change in expression, "You're a teacher."  Slight implication being, oh you couldn't do something else.  This is not to say that this was everyone's or even most people's reactions.  But it didn't happen infrequently. 

This is not why I left teaching.  It is not the worst thing in the world.  However, it is something that flashes through my mind when I get the not-so-atypical reaction of, "But we need good teachers!"

First of all, how do they even know that I was a good teacher?  Did I care?  Absolutely.  I poured my heart and soul into that job, to the point that I'm still trying to figure out who I am after this experience.  Did I work hard?  Definitely.  Nights, weekends, mornings.  Let me clear up the misconception about teachers working from 7 to 3.  Teachers get paid from 7 to 3.  They come in early, stay late and take lots and lots of work home.  Not to mention the time spent thinking about that one (or many) kid.  How do I reach him?  How do I get her to learn?  What's happening at his home tonight?  I did my best.  But my best does not necessarily make me a good teacher and I would argue that I wasn't the greatest teacher.  I tried and I always tried to be better, but I was certainly not the best and I'm not sure that my kids were any better off having known me. 

Second, if we need good teachers so bad, then why don't those people go do it instead of judging me?  I did it for three years.  I moved halfway across the country to do it.  So if I'm so horrible for leaving the profession, why are they better for never having done it? 

Sorry about the rant.  It's not the worst possible thing, but I'm frustrated by that reaction.  It sort of dismisses everything I've done for the past three years and the pieces of my soul that I gave to those kids. 

I absolutely believe that I was called to teach for a season.  I have never before received such a specific and profound calling.  I also believe that I was called for a short time.  Why?  I still haven't figured that out.  I do know that it was becoming abundantly clear that that time had come to an end.  I am burned out of teaching.  I no longer have the patience or energy to deal with the constant disruption, the behavior, disrespect from kids.  I don't feel like I was making enough of an impact on kids and I can't deal with failing every day anymore.  Now it's time to find out what I'm supposed to do next.

I think that's a large part of what's frustrating me as I write this more than anything.  I don't really know what I'm supposed to do next.  I don't know how to define myself.  I'm not a teacher.  I don't know how to respond when I meet new people and they ask what I do.  I'm unemployed?  I'm looking for a job?  I'm readjusting to my old life in some respects even though I'm not the same person? 

But maybe that's part of what I'm supposed to be learning right now.  I like being defined by things that I do or accomplishments or memberships.  I think most people do.  But that's not how I'm supposed to define myself.  I need to learn to define myself as a child of God and learn to be satisfied in that.  Because at the end of the day, that's what lasts.  Everything else is transient, earthbound.  That will last forever and when you have that, everything else will fall into place.  Maybe not the way that you plan.  Teaching certainly didn't work out in the way that I planned, but I learned a lot and grew tremendously.  I don't need to plan because He has a better one.  Parts of it might be really hard or even feel really awful at times and I really don't understand the reason for it.  Anyone who tells you that they do probably don't know what they're talking about.   So I need to learn to be satisfied and trusting and not to let my heart wander.  The good thing is that He experienced that, too, and understands and is forgiving through that. 

Sorry for such a long, random-seeming post.  And I appreciate it if you read it.  I'm just trying to figure things out. :)