A new year; a teacher without a classroom

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This weekend officially starts Autumn. Along with the wonderful Glimpses of Fall what else does the season bring to mind?  It’s Back to School ! Most college students have already been in classes for 3 weeks! (unless you are with a state system that starts at the end of September.) And all minors have been in classes for at least a week and a half and I am getting used to seeing those yellow buses again.

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My Alma Mater Azusa Pacific University

I grew up in a educator’s household. In fact this is my father’s 30th year teaching! To me the world did -and still does- revolve around the school year.  January is not the beginning of a new year-fall that cross over from August to September- is. It’s the time of new beginnings. Winter is the transition of classes and tests, Spring is finishing up classes and finals. Summer is regrouping and prepping for the next year and going on family vacations.

teenage attitude at Jefferson's home

teenage attitude at Jefferson’s home family summer vacation 2005

Ben and Jerry's tour in Vermont 2005

Ben and Jerry’s tour in Vermont 2005

It took sometime for me to accept that I functioned this way; that I was in-fact, like my father, a teacher. I was stubborn and hesitant to take on this identity and wrestled with accepting it all through my TESOL MA program. That is until I finally got in the classroom and had the opportunity to work with (and learn from) my students.

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When I saw that sense of relief and joy that comes from understanding on my student’s face, I knew. When I heard stories and examples of how my students were practicing and using their new languages skills and vocabulary outside the classroom I accepted it. When I realized I was enjoying writing lesson plans and even grading papers I fully embraced the fact that I was definitely a teacher.

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Summer ESL camp I taught in 2011

The question I have now is: Are you still a teacher when you are not teaching?

It has been almost a year (come the end of October) that I had been without a teaching job. I have been doing editing work on side but I miss students and the classroom. Last year at this time I had just begun to feel confident as though I had found myself:  learning to apply my degree and getting beyond the basics; ready to take on more creative practices. Then Luke and I got married, quit our jobs, and moved to Corning NY. (for more on this see Update Part three: Life in 2012)

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The first few months after that I was able to focus on new identities and roles as a new wife and resident of New York. But by spring I was ready for more and started searching around for jobs teaching ESL. I know I haven’t share much about my job searching process with all of you. Mainly, blogging to me is a hobby and is suppose to be fun. Talking about my job of trying to find a job sounded boring, mundane and I definitely didn’t want to whine or vent to you. I did share a little about trying to be patient with myself and learning to accept where I was at (for more on that see The future is . . .patience: giving myself timeContentment is . . . ).

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The sum-up is that I had no connections here-Luke and I have started our marriage off somewhere where we knew no-one, no family or friends in the state. And as much as jobs should be based on your experience and resume, the truth is it always helps to have a network (it really is all in who you know). Who did I know? No one! So I did some inquires, asked around, did research, called all the schools and programs that had ESL adult/college courses and came up empty handed. After a few fits about this, I bucked up and by early summer started applying to college level English writing and reading courses with hopes of landing a teaching job by the fall. Then came the waiting.

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And now it is fall and I am a teacher without a classroom. But I am out of the waiting room.  Applications I turned in during June are now being looked at for teaching classes in January. I have my first teaching interview tomorrow! It is a start, a foot in the door, an opportunity but I finally feel like I’m moving forward.  As I said before fall to me is the beginning of a new year: a season of change. Now I’m just wondering what changes it will bring.

What does fall mean to you?

What roles or labels define your identity?

Spring is coming

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Cherry blossom tree at Easter in Seattle

It is still cold outside but there is hope as things are slowly thawing. We are not used to long winters with snowy temps. from October-March. We are told this was a normal to light winter-eek!

Fortunately spring is coming and we have finally moved out of the “settling-in” stage. Luke mentioned to me that he feels like we have finally arrived-things are beginning to feel well . . .  normal. We have been married for 5 months now and the newness of it all is starting to fade . . in a good way.

Our “settling-in” phase was such a scramble. Everything was new, scary, exciting, and anxiety producing. Any little task around the house, errand, or decision was a monumental “first” which involved talking, compromise, patience, and grace.

We are now ready for a new phase I call “branching out”;  it’s time to get involved in the community.

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Now that I have gotten a grasp of some of my wifely responsibilities I am ready to begin the job of finding a job. It is time for me to find my purpose and place here in New York.

As I make phone calls, email inquiries, send my CV to colleges and companies in the area; I have to stay focused on today and not worry about tomorrow as I wrote in The future is . . .

We have also recently been asked to lead a small group of young couples at our church once a week starting in April. We love to host events and build community. Plus I once again have a reason to bake goodies!!!

In addition, we are attending Financial Peace University at our church.  Luke has a good working knowledge of finances I   . . . do not. We thought this class would provide us with the framework/vocabulary for discussion on this stressful topic. This is us taking that desire to procrastinate talking about loans, debt, spending, saving, and shoving it out the door!

Last, we have been exercising. We got memberships at the Y in January. It took awhile to get into the routine. Fortunately the Y has a clean welcoming facility and everyone is polite. There is no judgment, no hogging the machines, no showing off, just genuine people taking care of their bodies whatever their shape, size, or age! It is a far cry from the LA gyms and fitness centers! Still we are looking forward to warmer weather so that we can exchange our indoor exercise for outdoor explorations.

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Chinese garden Huntington Library this past May

Do you have any spring cleaning/changes or challenges ahead of you?