I think once I got my other job testing stuff for Harman/Digitech, then it made me stop stressing so much about work. I kept applying for full-time benefit positions. I got called in for an interview at a brand new charter academy (which is the part of the system I've never worked in, as the relationship between districts and charters is somewhat adversarial, and I started in the district system prior to the charter laws going into effect... so I was kind of stuck pension wise). But anyway... I was so burned out on getting screwed on interviews, that I just stopped trying really. I decided I was done, that I wasn't going to waste my time and shave off my beard, cut my hair, wear a suit, go in guns blazing and selling my years of "winning" as a teacher. I got this text of all things from a principal across town asking if I could come in 2 hours from then for an interview. I responded that I could. She gave me a weird address that didn't match up with the school where I applied. I thought maybe it would be at her house.
I get lost on the way (even though it's literally three blocks from my mom's house, which is where we lived all through the winter months and so on until I got my last job and we got into a house). I finally find the place, and it's this beautiful new little school building next to a pond tucked into a grove of trees right at the base of a 12,000 foot peak mountain (literally... right at the bottom... you leave the parking lot and you're climbing a mountain). I went into the interview and told her I wouldn't waste her time. That i'd applied for 50 jobs, interviewed for way smaller an amount than reasonable, that somebody is blacklisting me (2 districts) because one HR guy doesn't like me because I quit at mid year because of my health, and now was going after him at the state level for his illegal practices and they were pressuring him, which was preventing a great teacher from working.
So it was her call. Thanks for talking to me. Tell me about your school. I'm interested to learn something new since i did take the 15 minutes to drive over. She explains it, and it sounds cool. Gender differentiated classrooms for the kids who need it (some kids function better in a same gender peer group when it comes to academics because a crazy amount of stress piles on them from dealing with the opposite gender, fear of failure in front of them, social stigma of being "smart", etc.). Then the kicker... the school had reformed as a new school this year after being a strictly K-3 school initially, but it is now going K-8, and they will have one 7th grade class capped at 18 students and one 8th grade class capped at 18 students (hopefully 18 anyway... they may stretch it to 19, but if they have tons more interest they will let a flood in off of a waiting list and create two classes). The idea is that these are kids that just can NOT function in the junior high environment very well. They still need an elementary style classroom. They need somebody to teach them all subjects, they need the same classmates through the year and day, and so on. There is quite a bit of data that supports this model as an option. So I told her I thought it sounded cool, and I was one of those who didn't handle the transition and could have used an extra year or two of elementary.
I thanked her for her time, and thanked her for thinking outside of the box and meeting the needs of KIDS and not worrying about what teachers thought (many had quit, because they didn't like her ideas of changing to meet the needs of the school population was there).
I got a call first thing the next morning offering me the 8th grade position. It was a bit bizarre for me, because I'm elementary certified. But in Utah, elementary certification is grades 1-8. The reason is because in many rural areas you'll have a grades K-8 school that is an elementary/middle school and you want teachers who can teach up through middle no matter what, and then you can have enough people to cover jobs. I was trained in teaching through 8th grade, but the highest I've ever done was 6th. My wife teaches junior high though in the district here, and is going to work with me to get my curriculum set and prepare for dealing with 8th graders. I'm sure it will be fine, and I am really looking forward to it. Harman is keeping my job for me while I attend meetings and such and will let me work right up until my first day of teaching, and even work after school a couple of times a week if I like. They are happy I'm going full time, and if the teaching job sucks, maybe I can just roll into 40 hours with them. But now I have OPTIONS. It's a great thing. I'm still sick. I still struggle. But i made it through a day of working at Harman and 3 days of teacher meetings, and it went ok. I like the folks I work with already. We're like the "Bad News Bears" and I think we're going to shock people with what a great job we do with so little funding, a small building, and a different set of glasses to view education from the point of view of the child who needs some extra help. I'm excited. EXTREMELY excited!
Plus I get the same days off as my wife and kids, which means that the weekend I was coming to town for the wedding is a days-off situation and I can see the Hawks play the Titans and meet many of you as previously planned. YAHOOOEY KABLOOEY!!! I am stoked.
It's been a hard 2+ years away from education full time. Just walking into "MY" classroom yesterday was cause for a few stray tears to make their way through. These kids are lucky, but I'm MORE lucky to have them. Thanks for supporting me through this all guys. I hope I do Seahawks.Net proud and show you all that I still have what it takes to help the youth create a better life and to succeed. Don't be surprised if I'm here a lot asking you all for advice on how you deal with teenagers, or what worked best on you as a teenager. I'm sure it will be a learning experience, but I'm the guy who has never yelled in a class, yet they always behave. Respect goes a long way.