August 18, 2014

5 years. 4 classrooms. 3 states.

This month, I've embarked on setting up my 4th classroom.  It's my 3rd state in the last 5 years.  As an aspiring teacher, I never dreamed I'd only get to teach for a few years at a time, but that's military life for you. And, as a new army wife, back in 2009, I never dreamed I'd get to take my career this far.  To be honest, when we moved to Alaska, I worked on getting a job, but I never imagined that I'd really be able to keep teaching.  I'm lucky, very lucky and I know it.


I'm starting my 5th year of teaching and I consider it to be nothing short of miraculous.  5 consecutive years.  For most teachers, that's not a big deal.  However, this is my 4th classroom and my 3rd state.  And I've challenged Scott to find another army wife who has taught for 5 consecutive years whilst PCSing her way across the country (He doesn't know how lucky he is, right?  I've paid for half our hunting gear, I'm sure.)

I graduated from Penn State in May 2008.  I couldn't find a job.  I searched high and low.  I went on interviews.  I saved my rejection letters for posterity.  In August 2008, I met Scott.  I subbed in the local elementary school to make money.  Scott and I got engaged in February 2009 and married in May.  We moved to Alaska in September.  Before we moved, I'd had a phone interview with the Anchorage School District.  To say it was "awful" doesn't even begin to cover it.  Needless to say, they blacklisted me.  Still, that first year in Alaska, I subbed in Anchorage to get my foot back in the door (a fruitless effort).  That spring, I tried a different district north of Anchorage.  They hired me.  I worked there for 3 years and most of it was absolutely blissful.  Beautiful school, great kids…I wish I'd been able to take it with me.  But, the army called.


Last year, I was lucky enough to fall into a teaching position in Missouri at the 11th hour.  School started in August.  I started September 9th.  Honestly, I never had a chance, but I did what I could.  It was probably the best learning experience of my life.  I felt like someone had opened up my brain and poured in knowledge.  Standards, objectives, data, teaching techniques, interactive notebooks, new Smartboard tricks, Cornell Notes, Class Dojo…and so much more I didn't have the chance to get to because it was time to move again.  However, I learned how business was done efficiently in a big school and my principals and co-workers were quite the role models.


In May, I accepted a position in Colorado Springs and as I was hanging up the phone that evening, Scott said, "HOW do you DO this?" Like I said, he doesn't know how lucky he is.

However, he wasn't there when I had rejection after rejection in the summer of 2008.  He was there when Anchorage sent me rejection after rejection during the 2009-2010 school year.  He was there when my position was in danger of being cut after the 2010-2011 school year.  He was there when I couldn't find anything in Missouri last summer.

The point is:  I worked really hard to get here.  It has nothing to do with how hard teachers work.  It has to do with the effort that goes into finding a new job.  With the classes I've had to take to keep up certifications and the hundreds of hours of professional development and the hundreds of relationships I've been able to achieve.  In so many ways, the Army has actually HELPED my career.  How many army wives can say that?

*This is not a "should I work/should I not work" argument.  Lots of military wives don't work by choice, but lots maintain careers too.  It's a personal choice.*


So, anyway…

As I sat through my week-long orientation, I definitely felt overwhelmed and I certainly felt like, "Eh, I can do this.  I've done it before, right?"  Kids are kids everywhere and so I was excited just to dive in.


The biggest difference is that I was always part of a 5 or 6 teacher grade-level team in Alaska.  In Missouri, I was on a 15 teacher grade-level team (or maybe it was 14…when the numbers get too big, it becomes hard to keep track).  Here, it's just me and one other teacher and we're both new to the district, so it will make for an interesting year and a lot more effort.  I'm used to the veteran staff telling me what to do.

This post should also probably serve as a disclaimer of sorts.  If I'm a bit AWOL, the new school year at a new school would be the reason why.

If you want to take a look back…
My first Alaska classroom
My second Alaska classroom (I traded up)
My Missouri classroom

18 comments:

Chantal said...

Your classroom looks great! I'm so excited to hear how this year will go. Honestly. I love your posts about teaching.

Rachel said...

I hope you grow to love this new school and job very quickly! That's definitely got to be rough, simply the learning process involved in searching for new jobs so frequently and then getting oriented to a new place. I feel like more and more jobs are becoming very transient these days--fewer people work in one place for a long time than used to, for many reasons. Angel worked at his last job nearly 4 years and he was in the top 50% on his floor with highest seniority.

Julie said...

So enlighten me about that Alaska interview where they blacklisted you. Because I'm curious esp since I'm still in my search, as you know :)

Joey said...

I've been nothing but impressed with your ability (and your drive!) to keep working despite the PCSes. It's a true testament to how much you really care about teaching and your passion for it. I remember last summer when there was a good chance you wouldn't teach for the school year--and how out of sorts you seemed. I'm so glad that you've been able to keep doing what you love!

Him & Me (But Mostly Me) said...

I am so excited to read this post and your past ones! I love love love looking at school pictures. I was sub for 4 years and had to leave the field because I wasn't make enough money and there were no jobs. I'm glad you've been able to find jobs wherever you've gone. It's super duper hard these past several years!

Jen said...

I love your classroom!! Here is to a great school year. :)

Steph said...

Your classroom looks great! I hope you have an awesome year!

Rachel Ross said...

Wow that is pretty amazing! Your room looks great! Hope you have a great year! :)

Ashley Bishop said...

Your classroom looks really nice. I hope the school year goes well for you!

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

Your room is looking great.

Wishing you lots of luck this year, I'm looking forward to hearing about how it goes with two newbies at the helm! I hope you like the other teacher.

It's really impressive that you've been able to keep teaching across states.

Nichole @ casadecrews.com said...

They blacklisted you in AK?! I feel like I need to hear this story, lol. Good luck! I know you will do great!

The Tale of Three P's said...

Looks great! I love seeing other classrooms. Elementary and middle schools always look so different than high school classrooms.

Kristin said...

I absolutely love this post! I can totally relate to you on the rejection front. We use an online system in New York (OLAS) and it keeps track of all the jobs you've applied to. One day, for giggles, I looked and I had applied to 60 something jobs since I got my Masters 3 years ago. All different districts, leaves, probationary, subbing, etc. i was convinced that system was flawed and they weren't actually getting my application until I got my TA job. And after all the rejections I got earlier in the year, I am SO THANKFUL I landed the job I start soon.

I am kind of jealous your orientation was a week...mine is a DAY!! We have new teacher orientation August 28th, Superintendent's conference Sept 2 and students start Sept 3!!! I wish I knew what books I was using or my class rosters or anything. My access is still completely blocked!

Becky Dougherty said...

Your classroom looks great!! I'm sharing my classroom set up for the school year tomorrow! I'm so glad that you have been able to keep teaching despite moving from state to state! Here's to a great school year! :)

Kristen said...

Congrats, and cheers to a great school year! I hope I'm as lucky as you when it comes to teaching and finding work.

Kara said...

Good for you! It's not easy to find jobs in this life, let alone in our field. I didn't work in Okinawa because I couldn't find anything work the time. I have a job here, but it is nowhere near what I want to be doing.

Angie said...

I hope you have a wonderful year of teaching :)

Ginna Van Zandt said...

Love your classroom!! Have you been able to reuse stuff from state to state or have you needed to start from scratch each year?