Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rambling, mostly, about my job(s).

Today was tough. the last 6 or 7 weeks between spring break and summer represent time in which students are physically, but not mentally, in my room. 2-step inequalities? rise over run? Are you kidding me?

Why can't I eat a large back of check mix and king-sized candy bar in class? Hey, can we have a free day? Why do I have to put my phone away? Why can't you be cool?

Oh, for all its glorious wonder spring break is just the cruelist thing. It's a week long enticement, dangling summer in front of me, summersummersummersummersummersummer and then, PSYCH!

During spring break, I made my trip to downtown Albuquerque on Pistachio the Precious, did some stuff, and then sat in the shade at Tingly Pond eating chips and drinking water. Then I headed back north where I sat in the shade at a local coffee house, drinking a lovely iced drink. It was one of those beautiful days that are so terrific that you forget all about winter. Winter? What winter? cold? Nah. Never happened.

The trip I was making had to so with some stuff I needed to take care of over at this community mental health center where I've sometimes worked as a mental health counselor for the past two years. I'm not licensed yet (I defend my thesis on April 18th and have the NCE to take) but every time I go there they remind me that I'm welcome to work there. They've been offering me a job since I was an Intern. Plenty of clients, they say, no problem, anytime you want. Just say the word.

And there it is, one of those dillemas: The job you want, the people you like, and a salary you couldn't feed a cat on.

To give you an idea of how low the salary is, it's considerably lower than what I am paid as a high school teacher. Oh yes, that's right. Lower than a teacher's salary, and that's without the summers off.

It's painful to keep saying no each time they tell me how good they think I am. Every time I leave the counseling center I feel smart and efficacious. Then, I go back to my "real" job where, for all practical intents and purposes, I'm told, "We'll let you teach another year. You may, or may not get your own classroom. And you may, or may not, get a place to park, if you get here early enough. Don't complain about how crowded the classes are. They're crowded everywhere."
Which is a lot like saying, "Don't complain about how hard we beat you. We beat everyone that hard."

One of these days, I'm going to turn down the tentative parking spot and classroom for a real office and a door that I can shut and furniture that people aren't allowed to write on with sharpies or carve their initials into, and I'll have books free of badly drawn pot leaves and genitalia.

So, here's the plan: One more year. Just one. May of 2009 will be the day that I check the "no" box on my "intent" form for the next school year Do you plan to return to this school next year?
I fantasize about thumbing my nose at the district. I fantasize about mooning someone, or making some dramatic speech about respect, and writing a letter to the editor telling off all the parents in the district about how they could make the life the next teacher easier.

Most likely, though, I'll do what a lot of teachers do; I'll fail to report for duty on August 15th of the next school year. I wonder if they'll miss me.

Old teachers never die; they just wipe their slate clean.



  1. A year will go by fast-hang in there (think of it as like being pregnant-you know how fast the time goes there). It is amazing how little counselors are paid in the community setting. We are so needed!!!!

  2. Anonymous7:21 PM

    There will be people and students who miss you. I'm sure you've made a difference in many lives that you don't even realize.

    My teenage boys still talk about their favorite teachers...the who really cared. Kids can tell :)

  3. 7-8 more weeks....
    think of it as building your endurance...that's what I kept telling myself all those long, long, long, years!
    NO race could be worse than spending 30 min. with a kid from hell, or an hour meeting with his/her parents!
    NO RACE ever has been...!

  4. Oh dilemmas. Do what you love at work, or do what makes you able to afford to do what you love at home.
    I'm there all the time - go back to the bedside and take a huge pay cut, or keep pushing papers and sitting in quality improvement meetings bored to tears at times and be able to afford to live where I live and have the cash to afford what I do for fun.
    27 years til retirement. Then I don't have to choose anymore.... :-)

  5. Oh, I live with a middle school teacher in the same burn out boat! I see the increasingly frantic look in her eyes when she says the words, "One more year. I can make it one more year." What I know is that she can't quite imagine even making it through the next nine weeks. Hope you get some good rejuvenation somewhere and in the end find a way to do what you love best (and still eat!) Peace.


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