Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Harder than I thought

I don't know if I felt a chuckle form in my stomach or a tear form in my eye this week as teachers began reporting about their summer coming to an end and all the emotions that might come with that. For me this summer dragged on and on like no other I can remember. I've gone through the full range of emotions this summer. It started off on a Wednesday morning at Starbucks in Springfield, IL. I was in Springfield with Theresa, my sister Janie and her husband Rich because my Mom was in the hospital along with my uncle. While chatting in the little outside patio area I got a phone call from U.T. wanting to schedule an interview with me! We scheduled a job interview at United Township for Friday morning at 9 am. I felt like I did an awesome job in my interview. I knew by the lack of phone call the next day that they probably decided to hire someone else--well actually two someone else's because there were two open positions. Sure enough, late in the morning on my birthday I got the call--and I was right. It was like a hit in the gut I've never felt before. I have been to as many interviews as I've had jobs. Up until this interview, I've always gotten the job I've interviewed for. I've tried to figure out how someone right out of college is the best candidate for the job over someone ALSO right out of college in a teacher certification program but also has years of experience in the classroom as a paraprofessional and experience in the private and public sector. It was the beginning of a very long summer.

Theresa and I took a little trip to St. Louis which was the highlight of the summer. It was nice to just get away from it all for a little trip. That trip, which included a stay at my sister and brother-in-laws house, flew by. While on vacation I was checking the teacher jobs sites online and saw a position post for Orion High School. So the first day at Janie and Rich's house I put vacation on hold and printed up my resume, altered my letter of interest to fit the Orion position, print up my letters of recommendations, transcripts, etc and sent it off to Orion from Carterville, IL...all while on vacation.  We returned home from vacation and the summer started to stall as it did before leaving town.

Days and weeks went by and no one called from Orion. Let me tell you, that is a MUCH better outcome than finishing runner up out of 80 applicants. Summer would continue to drag by--with not much action until the end of the summer when that spark of hope would show it's face again.

At the end of July another job opened up that was in Galva, IL. That is the maximum driving distance I think I can do to commute to work. I was called for an interview and had a week to practice for it. This time, I told myself I'm going to do great, am not going to worry or stress about it, and whatever happens--happens. And I truly did go into my interview relaxed, confident, and prepared. During my interview--I NAILED IT! I knew I did a great job and just really thought good news would come from it.

The last weekend in July my sister and her family were in town for the Bix Weekend in Davenport. That Friday I was jamming on guitars in my bedroom with my nephew and his friend who was traveling with him and my daughter Sara. I got a phone call and excused myself taking the call outside where it was quiet. I told no one about my Galva interview except Theresa. I've learned family will not leave you alone until they hear whether you got a job offer or rejection--and those calls I can do without...my family should know when I find out I will tell the whole world immediately...so I kept this news under wraps. Well the phone call was from the Galva principal who said I did an excellent job and said the word "congratulations" 3 times. He did say "well we have you and one more candidate we'd like to meet again with the superintendent"...but I felt really good about this!  He scheduled my interview for first thing Monday morning. I had prayed to God that if God's plan was for me NOT to get the job then please don't let them call me for a second interview. I don't want to get my hopes up again to have them come crashing down. I figured this was a VERY good thing as I had been praying to God for most of the day and evening before to NOT call me for a second interview unless I was hired for the job.

I arrived at Galva Adminstration offices (Galva Elementary School to be more exact) to meet with the principal and superintendent. They told me right away the interview would be much quicker than the last one--they just had a few more questions. This is typical in a final interview. Again, my interview went extremely well and they said they would notify both candidates as soon as early afternoon possibly but certainly before the end of the day. When I didn't get a phone call by early afternoon I knew again--bad news.

Bad news it was--and I've rehashed this over and over again. I've determined that with my background, experience, letters of recommendations, accomplishments etc...that I either screwed something up that I am truly unaware of, or they hired the wrong person. I go back to "God's Plan" a lot and for the life of me I can't see what God's Plan in this is. The only thing I can think of is God was saving me from some car accident some morning or afternoon commuting to or from work. If that is the reason--I can live with it. But I know I'm still kicking myself harder than I've ever done before because I must have done or said something or omitted something that they were looking for to not get hired. Maybe the other person was just better than me--whatever the reason they got the job and I didn't...it is what it is and I accept that.

But this past week has been tough. Seeing teacher friends commentate on their summer ending and returning to school--how some are looking forward to Christmas break already--just has been tough to see. Having a wife as a teacher I hear all the stories of life in 3 schools and the hectic work pace, the fun expectations of new students, rooms, teachers...realizing I've been part of all of this the past 7 years--but not now. It's harder than I thought.

I know sometimes it takes something being taken away for you to truly appreciate it. But I've always appreciated the opportunity to teach. Whether it was as a one on one aide to an Aspergers child, to a paraprofessional in a special education classroom with Kindergarten through 3rd graders, to student teaching in one of the most awesome history classrooms in the world, to substitute teaching at the high school--I've always appreciated the opportunity to teach. But honestly, I want so much more than being a substitute teacher--when things don't really get started for another month or so--and then it isn't my classroom, with my teaching strategies, lesson plans, etc...I realize this is much harder than I thought. I realize exactly what it is I should be doing--pray to God it happens soon, and realize what I am doing now--watching my wife go off to work everyday teaching the subject she loves...reading all the status updates from my teaching friends on their new school days etc...all from the "comfort" of my own home is not comforting at all.  This is much harder than I thought.

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