Monday, March 25, 2013


My husband is reading Why are all the Good Teachers Crazy by Frank Stepnowski.  I picked it up the other day and started reading the introduction, in which he explains the pretty crazy story of how he got his first teaching job.  It got me to think about my first successful interview, which while not nearly as crazy as his, is pretty interesting in its own way.

I was gallivanting in Germany the summer after college graduation, so my mom actually sent most of my resumes out.  As such, I interviewed for every job for which I was qualified.  I interviewed for in school suspension positions, maternity leave replacements; I impressed one high school principal but looked too young (I was not yet 22) and was referred to the middle school in the district, a job I also did not get.

So, things were looking pretty bleak when September rolled around.  In the midst of a strong economy, I could not find a job with a Bachelor's degree in History Education.  Resigned, I started looking into master's programs (it was too late) and contemplated working at my seasonal summer job and moving back into Mom and Dad's house.

I really had nothing to lose, I guess, when I interviewed for a position far north of my home.  I didn't know what I was getting into and was asked, "Why should I hire you when I have a stack of resumes here from people with master's degrees?"  What are you supposed to say to that when you have no experience and no advanced degree?  With nothing to lose, I replied, "Well, because I'm awesome."

I truly believe it was that answer that got me the job as well as the lasting friendship of the interviewer.  When he called me at that seasonal job, I dropped to the floor screaming with joy.

What I learned from the experience was that sometimes, you just have to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.  Sometimes, you just have to wing it.  And sometimes, being serious is not the best course of action.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

But now I'm stronger than yesterday....

It recently came to my attention that my husband gave me a shout out on his blog, in a post titled "I'm better because of you."  No, it's not a lovey dovey something, and neither will this be, but it's about being inspired, being better than yesterday (hence the Britney), and about not only being a better teacher, but also about being a better person.

At the end of the post, he asked, "Who makes you a better person?"

First, I have to point to my sons here; since the birth of the first, I have taken our family (sometimes kicking and screaming) on a more healthful, more environmentally friendly, and less exploitative path.  I was never mindful of the garbage I put into and onto my body before thinking about the impact it would have on my baby (although I still put some of that garbage into and onto my body, I feel worse about it and am mindful of it being garbage--I'm looking at you, gummy "fruit" snacks).

Furthermore, how can I expect them to be good sharerers or kind, or any of the other things I expect them to be if I am not?  How can I tell them to take turns if I don't let a driver into a line of cars?  How can I teach them that it's ok to make mistakes and to not beat themselves up when they do when I don't?

So I try to be better.  I'm not always great at it, but I'm working to model the behavior I expect in my sons, which makes me a person who is working to be better every day.

Next up is my aforementioned husband, who teaches me about being passionate every day.  I don't know if I've ever met someone who is as passionate about his/her profession as he is.  He is always available to his students, always thinking about how to be better at his work tomorrow or next year, always trying to be better.  While I have no where near his level of work ethic, his passion reminds me that work is about more than a paycheck.  A phrase his parents told him as a kid is "If you're not having fun, pack up your toys and head home."  Steve Jobs said, "'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'" And whenever the answer has been "'No'" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Work should be fun.  Hell, LIFE should be fun.  Life is too short to spend too many days unhappy.  If I feel like Eeyore for too many days, I need to make a change.  If small changes aren't helping in the big picture, I need to make bigger changes.  I also need to keep in mind what Richard Carlson posits,

“Will this matter a year from now?”

But yet, it's important to remember too that work is not life.  Time for play is important, not only to being a good parent but to being a good person.  I don't want to wait until I retire (or even until summer brings a slew of fun days off) to have fun.  My parents spend their winters in a community of retirees in the Florida Keys; they have fun all the live long day there.  Although I am working full time, parenting full time, and being a lousy homemaker full time as well as living in gray NJ, I need to find ways to bring that fun, that joy, to my life every week if not every day.  

So, why am I posting this on my educator reflection spot rather than my personal one?  Because, of course, all these areas are what I hope to bring to my students.  I need to model good behavior and be a better person for them, but I also hope to help them determine for themselves what being a good person means.  I hope to inspire them to follow their passions rather than pursuing the career that will make Mom and Dad happy or bring them riches (unless doing so also fulfills their passions), and I want them to realize that work and school should be fun--being passionate about it will make that true.