Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crossroads

Over the past couple of years, I feel like my career has taken a real beating.  I admit there are days when I enjoy my time on my own to the fullest, but it's hard for my ego when I realize that I have basically become a babysitter to two dogs.  I'm not on sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching soap operas all day long, but it feels like my sole purpose sometimes is to keep them from barking at every little noise they hear.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mutts.

But, I had a career in my old life (a successful one, I might add, with room for promotion), and I was somebody.  People depended on me, I made important decisions, I scheduled vacations.  And that was before I decided to go back to school to get my MA and be a high school teacher.  Don't even get me started on how important that was to me.

Right before moving to Nashville, I was finally doing what I'd hoped to do from the moment I went into teaching:  I was teaching college classes.  Granted, I was adjunct faculty and worked part time, but I really had the best of two worlds.  My students were still in high school and they were earning dual credit through their high school and through the university.  They were motivated to do good work (not necessarily the case with most high school      college students), they had good attendance, and they wanted to learn.  It was a beautiful thing.

I had planned to work on my PhD eventually - see, I'd gone back and gotten my second MA in history at the local university because quite frankly, that is what is expected of teachers if they want to continue to get raises.  I didn't exactly go back to school just to please the people who pull the strings in the education field, but it was supposed to be a side effect if I decided to stay in secondary education.

However.

This is where life comes in.

My husband makes the bigger income in this household.  It hasn't always been this way, but I have no issues with this.  I am not one of those folks who gets worked up about who might be the more important person in our relationship based on money.  That's just not my style.

But it does determine where we live, because we made that decision a while back.

So what?

Well, that means that I only applied to one PhD program, one right here in Nashville.  I knew it wasn't a good fit for me and that it was pretty much a long shot from the get-go, and as I expected, I didn't get in.  Now, there is a PhD program here in Tennessee that would be a good fit, but I just don't think I have it in me to commute or live away from home.  I've had enough of commuting to last a lifetime, and I got over being separated from my husband for the 7 months he was here in Nashville and I was still in Kentucky.  So I haven't bothered to jump through all the hoops that are necessary to apply to that program, even though I think I would really really enjoy it.

As it turns out, me being off work/free of school obligations was probably the best thing for me since my part-time job became going to the doctor, sitting through chemo infusions, and recovering from surgery (it took me a long time to get to a good place physically after my mastectomy).

Unfortunately, it's not like I could cram everything into a few months and be done - treatment takes time, even when things are going your way.  I remember when I had my first meeting with my surgeon and my oncologist, they explained how my treatment plan should go.  They basically laid out that I had a year of working on my health, but that by the end I should be able to come back around to a more normal way of life.

That was mostly true.  Only they left out the part where I would have to wait a year before reconstruction and then I would need down time to recover from that.  Yesterday I was filling out an online application, and it hit me how much time I've really lost, as I filled in dates for when I completed this degree, left that job, and so on.  It was depressing.

Anyway, here I am now, thinking of what I'm going to do when school starts back.  I miss being in the classroom, and I've paid my fee to the devil (otherwise known as ETS) so that I am certified to teach here in Tennessee.

But I know how this field works.  There aren't going to be a lot of jobs available right now, and schools want to hire people they know.  I suspect that if I want to ever teach full time in this area, I'm going to be subbing for a year, at the very least.  Do you know how very little that pays and how much crap you have to put up with when doing this thankless job?

I do -- I did it for a couple of years before I got my first full-time teaching job.  So for now, I'm just unsure it's worth it.  The education industry (and yes, it is an industry, make no mistake about it) is not the best field for people who really care about teaching right now anyway.  It's ruled by small minded leaders who have one concern - getting reelected.  Not exactly a great formula for getting kids the education that can make their lives better.

I guess that leaves me right back where I started when I finished graduate school.  Do I bite the bullet and apply for a PhD program that would be a lot of work, a fair amount of money, and not a lot of great prospects for job employment?  Or do I sub for a year and hope I make friends with the right people in some local school administration?

Or do I do something radical and consider a serious career change?  There is a high demand for nurses in this area, and that's only going to get greater in the next few years.  I know that moving to a field like that would mean even more time in school, but it would probably be less $$ than a PhD program, and I would have much better career prospects.  Added to that, in future I might be able to teach nursing after a few years of experience.  I keep hearing all kinds of news stories about how there is an even bigger shortage of people to teach nursing classes than there is of nurses themselves.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  I'm very nervous about going back to teaching school with all the BS that I hear in the news about education right now.  I don't think we're going to figure out the problems in this country's education system anytime soon, and I got tired of feeling beat up by administrative decisions when I was in the classroom.  I'd love to hear from anyone who's been there, done that, or who has had an epiphany in the world of careers.

6 comments:

Meghan Naxer said...

I highly recommend starting with 2 books by Ken Robinson: The Element and Out of Our Minds. Also, if you wanted to stay in a field with a strong link to education, you might want to investigate a library program. A lot of Paul's courses for his MLIS are centered around education and learning, and there seems to be a lot of room for different specializations.

cdcquilter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cdcquilter said...

Go for nursing (if you're not a wimp like me and can't stand the slight of blood). Teaching is not your only option after serving a few years working with patients. There are a ton of administrative jobs with important titles and big salaries that require nursing experience. So, nursing offers you a LOT of options.

zoe said...

the world is open to you! :)
if you can stomach nursing, that's a field that always needs, it's true...and i agree with what cdquilter said, you can do lots of different things with a nursing degree.
you seem to like teaching a lot, though, and those college-level courses you taught sounded perfect--hold out for what you love, i say! :)

Anonymous said...

I hope you have found your niche by now and that you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

I heard that there is a need for teachers for nursing school, but that was a few years ago. Who knows what will happen with Obamacare. The hours for nursing are crappy, not conducive for marriage and children.