Monday, June 22, 2015
So much has changed since my last post that I hardly know where to begin! If you're a teacher in NYS, you have some idea where I'm coming from. The roller coaster ride that has been my career these last several years is another story all its own. Shortly after my last post, I received news that I was going to be embarking on a new phase to my career-- and not by my choice. A French teacher for 17 years, I was being asked to teach Spanish the following September. My last Spanish class prior to that was as an undergrad about 20 years prior -- SPA 202 to be precise. I needed to take the Content Specialty Test in mid July, in case I didn't pass it the first time it was offered again in July. Three weeks of my life after school ended that year, 7-8 hours a day, I did pass the test. But there was a catch. Apparently I would need 15 more credit hours to make the certification permanent. My last class-- Introduction to Spanish Linguistics-- is over in two days. I can finally reclaim part of my life. The irony, for me, has been that during this three year transition, I served as president of my local professional organization for a year, took over as director of a major district event, filled part of a vacancy as co-coach of my district's PBIS team, and this school year that is (finally) coming to an end, I have presented at a professional event every month except December and January. I've lost all of my French classes, and am now teaching only Spanish. It may seem to many people (because many have said it to me) that I should simply be grateful to have a job. I get that, and I am grateful, but only other language teachers can understand how much of one's identity is tied up in being a French teacher or a Spanish teacher or an Italian teacher. We do so much more than teach Vern conjugations and vocabulary. So this has been equally a period of grieving my former identity, and learning to give up the autonomy that I had working with only one other French teacher, and accept that I am now "low man on the totem pole" on a larger, more contentious team. The rest (more irony) is that within my department I have become more isolated than I have been since the early years of my career. Despite all of this, I am poised to return in the fall (who am I kidding, I have exactly one work-free week this summer) to a course I haven't yet taught, but with one major stressor ?coursework) off my plate. I am on an exciting new team that will be collaborating on a program to be piloted in Fall 2016. This opportunity promises to be a professional stretch in any case. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, and I have come out the other side having learned a lot more than what has been on the course syllabi. Onward and upward to make the most of what I am given.