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.
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.*
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