Remember how I interviewed for another job? Well, I had to wait about a week and a half to hear back, and well, I heard back.
They called me at 8:30 p.m., smack dab in the middle of a stress-induced Grey’s Anatomy marathon.
“Is this a good time to talk?” She asked.
It’s finally over, I thought, my heart starting to pound.
“Well, I have a position to offer you,” she started. “But, not in ELA.”
Wait, what? I thought. What else could it be? Recess monitor? Secretary? Designated Staple Remover?
“O-okay,” I stammered.
“We are hoping that you would be .5 ELD at our school, and .5 ELD at the high school,” she said. “We think of you as a leader, and feel that this is a good step for you.”
I nodded, and then realized that I was on the phone and she couldn’t see that.
“Uh,” I began, ever so eloquently. “ELD? I’ve never done that before.” It’s true; I have my ELD endorsement, because it came with my Master’s Degree program. It was like when you get a cheap tote bag with a $35 dollar Clinique purchase. It’s a nice add-on, but you throw it into the closet and forget about it until your next garage sale.
Now, the tote bag was coming back to haunt me.
“Right,” she said. “But we really feel like this would be a good opportunity for you. I know it’s a lot to take on, so take one or two days to think about it. Email me if you need to with any questions.”
We hung up and I sat there, questions beginning to pile up in my mind like dirty laundry.
Leave the classroom? Not teach language arts anymore? Be at two schools? Work with seven grade levels? Start a brand new job at two brand new schools?
Honestly, I had imagined that the worst case scenario would be that I would not get a position and I would have to upgrade my armor and battle-axe before next year started.
Suddenly, I was faced with the dilemma of staying and doing what I love in a place that I despise, or go to a better school and do something I am not really into.
The next day I stepped into my classroom, and I felt at home. In this 20 x 20 room, I know exactly what I’m doing. I felt a pang about packing it all up. But, I told myself, this could be good, too. I could hone my collaborating skills. I could have a greater influence with other adults. I could help students on a more one-on-one basis.
And then our current ELD teacher came around the corner. I watched as my colleagues rolled their eyes and tried to scurry into their classrooms. Later, they complained about her.
“Ugh, she always wants to pull my students out for stupid testing,” one said.
“She’s never around when we need her,” another quipped.
That would be me, I thought. Always on the periphery, especially between two different staffs at two different levels. I would be working with about 50 different teachers. Half of them high school teachers.
High school teachers are a whole different species. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but when our district gets all the teachers together, you can definitely tell who teaches what. The primary teachers are all colorful and high-pitched. The middle school teachers are the least likely to pay attention and we still laugh at a good fart joke. The high school teachers sit in the back, disinterested and making obscure literary references. They’re like the hipsters of education.
And, in our district, they’re not used to having to modify assignments or take on new strategies because of ELL students. In fact, until this year, the high school didn’t even need an ELD teacher.
In essence, if I took job, I’d be trading one battlefield for another.
I’ve been walking around in a daze, trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t like feeling like such a pawn, lugging around that tote bag that now suddenly weighed about 15 tons.
So this pawn fought back.
I called our Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She is a tiny, powerful woman, and she never pussyfoots around anything. I knew that I could count on her to be honest.
I explained the situation, how it all felt way too daunting; having to learn a brand new job while trying to successfully serve students at seven different grade levels, four of which are trying to find their way to graduation.
“Well,” she said, sighing. “We knew it was a long shot, asking you to take all of this on.”
“And, we knew that you would prefer to be at one school. But the other two language arts teachers are transfers from your school, and we didn’t want to show favoritism. So, we couldn’t give you 8th grade language arts.”
“And then we noticed you have your ESOL endorsement.”
There’s that tote bag again.
I wanted to cry. I had been passed up because of appearances, not skill. I felt trapped between two choices that both sucked.
But then, out of nowhere, this came out of my mouth: “Listen, I know that I would do great things at this school. But I need to be there full time. I can’t be at my best if all of my time is divided up between two schools. You know that; I know that. I also know that nothing is set in stone yet. People can be moved around. So, I will do .5 ELD if you give me something else at that school.”
“You make some valid points,” she replied.
But you’re officially hosed, I thought.
“We will see what we can do,” she said. “We will get back to you, and I hope we can work something out that keeps you at one school full-time.”
So now I’m waiting. I’m waiting to see if this pawn can move herself into a winning position.