Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weighing in on Teaching

A blogger friend of mine has been debating if she should continue her pursuit of getting her teaching license.  She wrote a blog post about it and asked for feedback since she knows a bunch of teachers.  I wanted to share my response because people often ask me the question, "Should I be a teacher?" or "If you were to do it again, would you be a teacher?"

I think you know my answer based on my actions in my professional career.  I taught first grade in my own classroom for six years.  I absolutely loved being a first grade teacher, especially with the amount of growth and progress that kids make that year.  I loved, LOVED teaching kids how to read--to really read and and think--how to figure it out for themselves and get the meaning behind what they were reading.  I also substitute taught for several years and appreciated the different nuances of each age.  I will admit that I enjoyed the middle schoolers as much as the little ones.

However, K~ said it best.  I did not love being a teacher in today's society.  Teaching changed from the time that I entered the profession.  It is not what it was.  I know a lot of teachers say that, but I really think there is a huge difference in the profession in the last 10-15 years--more so than any other time before.  There is so much pressure with standardized testing, more is being asked of teachers with less compensation, and respect for educators continues to decline.  The system is broken and it does not feel like there is a real solution in sight because there is a focus on blame verses a view of continuous improvement that needs to be a community responsibility and effort.

I went back to school to study in another somewhat related field to give myself options, while also getting my certification in English as a Second Language.  As you know from my career search this summer, I was applying for jobs in Virginia for ESL and middle school math positions.  If I was going to go back to teaching, it was not going to be in a regular classroom.

As it turns out, the day that I was to submit my second requests for the Virginia positions to have the best chance at job interviews, was the day that I had my interview for my hospital job in Florida.  I am very happy with the path that I took and love my new job.  But I don't think I would appreciate it as much had I not been a teacher first.

There are times that I miss teaching.  I miss the kids.  I miss their wonder, surprise in themselves in their accomplishments, and the tender, funny and insightful comments without a filter.  I miss the conversations I had with my co-workers when we would spitball new ideas or chat about a new teaching strategy.  I loved building upon my craft.  But I was sad that I felt so restricted in being able to do what I could do best--building a community of learners who looked out for each other and learned to think for themselves--raising people up to keep chasing their dreams.

But, as I said, I love my new career because of my first.  Many of the teachers that I met that came into teaching as a second career were very happy in their work.  As new teachers, but not new professionals, they brought other strengths with them that helped them to shine.  Sometimes I wondered where they got their energy.  If you have a serious passion to do it, go for it.  You can always try it and if it does not quite fit, you can use your first degree to find a job that suits your needs.

Best of luck!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dating Hesitation

Since moving to Orlando, I have been fortunate to have gone on a few dates.  It has been fun meeting new people while attracting the attention of some nice men.  One guy wasn't a good match for me.  He was a nice guy, just not quite the right fit.  Another guy was a lot of fun, but he lives a little ways away on the beach.  I get the impression he is still balancing some things in his life and the distance thing does not help that.  Or maybe I wasn't a match for him?

But, I am okay with accepting if the fit is just not there in the early phase of dating and then moving onto the next possibility.  I think I am improving in that area and not taking it as personal.  It is a good thing to feel comfortable in not feeling like I have to settle for an okay fit or good enough.  I value wanting there to be more of connection that is satisfying for both people.  I want a relationship that I can enjoy and that they enjoy with me.  I want to share a life with someone.  I want to have fun and look forward to seeing them.

Then with the most recent guy, it's still kind of early and I am trying to take things slowly.  I'm trying to return to this approach in general because I think it will help me to get to know the person better to head off getting clouded and confused.  Once I am emotionally attached it is easier for me to overlook or forgive behaviors, flaws or synchronicity that is off where it may not be the best match.

I have found myself with that familiar feeling of being tickled when I get to see him.  He is easy to talk to about similar interests and what is happening in life.  He is kind, open and insightful.  However, when we went on a few dates, I found my nerves bubbling up and getting the best of me.  I was thinking too much and not in the moment.  Panic was setting in and it was freaking me out.

In part, I realize that I feel a little more pressure with dating now than I did before when I lived in Pittsburgh.  When I was in Pittsburgh and I first started dating again, it was an adventure.  At first I didn't take it too seriously because I figured that if things didn't work out, that I would be leaving after graduation.  The plan was to get my degree, get a job and get the heck out of there.  Pittsburgh was supposed to be temporary.  It was kind of liberating and allowed me to be more in the moment.  Then I met and fell in love with RJ, which was not part of the plan.  I was coming to a place of happy acceptance that life is not always what you plan and some the best stuff can pop into your life when you least expect it.  My thoughts and hopes for my future shifted towards envisioning a life in Pittsburgh with RJ.  However, that relationship ended and I became open to leaving town, again.  This time it was with a heart with mixed emotions.  It was an opportunity to embrace a fresh start, but it meant distance from the people who became my very close friends and confidants.  Pittsburgh crept into my heart and I made it my home.  It was bitter sweet for me to leave.

Now dating feels more real, like the stakes have been raised and there is less room for error, for heartbreak.  It was so difficult for me to live in the same neighborhood as RJ after the relationship ended.  There were so many reminders of him.  There was a history with A~, but he left town.  Part of me is afraid that if things start and end with someone in Orlando, I wouldn't have a place to run.  I am afraid of getting hurt again.  And I think this is silly.  Lots of people start and end relationships where they live and they reestablish themselves.  And dating should be fun and it should be an adventure!

Finally, I have been worried that if things got more serious with the most recent guy and if it ended, I'm worried about possibly hurting him.  I want to keep things more light and breezy.  He has stated that he likes me, but knows and is understanding that I want to take things slowly.  But, I don't want to hurt him, and kind of selfishly I don't want to deal with the emotional fallout in how it may impact me.  Insert where I know I am being contradictory of myself because I have been angry and suspect that RJ did that very thing to me.  It's holding me back, I can feel it and it has been bothering me.

The recent guy is a grown man and makes his own choices.  I should not be trying to be responsible for him not getting hurt.  We each have a responsibility to be honest and respectful with each other.  But, each person is responsible for their own feelings and the risks they take.  There is some element of trust in there.

With these realizations, it has helped me to understand what I think is the root of my problem.  I am feeling a little better being able to identify my worries.  Hopefully, I can let go of them and get back to being more relaxed, present and just be me!  It's got to be all in to give me, him and us a chance to see if it can begin and to see where it may lead.