Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Fallout-- A Ramble

Well, there are four weeks of summer left; the end of summer is a point of reference claimed by students, parents and educators. The rest of the world continues on through its perpetual twelve month cycle. They are oblivious to the cycle that teachers sometimes take for granted, the cycle of reading & long-term planning over the summer, envisioning who our students might be, what the challenges might be this year, literally and figuratively plotting our courses; envisioning our classroom, ordering posters, shopping for professional attire; plunging in, discovering the realities that our visions lacked, furiously memorizing names, faces, bell schedules, details that will help us connect with our students; assigning, collecting, assessing, providing feedback, re-envisioning constantly; making thousands of decisions a day until sometime around February we sort of cave in, assign long-term projects and hand the responsibility for our students' success back to them, to often thrilling results. They have grown. We continue to push until we are exhausted. And by then, it is May, and we're just trying to keep everyone hooked until summer, when we pile the extra stacks of papers into a cardboard box marked "To File," wipe down the cabinetry, and surrender to summer.

Except that this summer was different. This summer, I had a pink slip, a RIF slip. This summer, I collected unemployment and prayed, hoped, affirmed, envisioned, clung to the notion that I might get rehired by my old district (TUSD). My husband had lost his job in November, and we had to short-sell our home because of it. We had not anticipated that, and never did we anticipate that my teaching jobs would be so unsure, either. This summer, we moved into a family-friendly rental. I spent the first few weeks unpacking, organizing, arranging. It would have gone a lot faster without actual daily life continuing on. Oh, that, and the full schedule of parks and recreation classes I had scheduled for the kids. (Side note: Tucson Parks and Rec. has an amazing variety of offerings. Check it out! We qualified for a discount!)

By the time I came up for air and went back to my job search in earnest, almost half of summer had passed. And by then I was in the middle of real estate school. My husband has been a Realtor for 6 years, and we figured, why not? It might be the key to our financial recovery. And I really think we are going to enjoy working together.

So I was in the middle of real estate school, in the middle of a fervent job search, and the state legislature had passed the budget, a budget which doesn't completely eliminate public education in Arizona. But it was/is really difficult to know what that budget really means for those teachers who have lost their jobs, or for those of us with first graders thinking about the first days of school.

So, tomorrow I finish my real estate salesperson's class at Hogan, and I am beginning to reflect on this whole experience. I'm still awaiting word from TUSD (what word we get is often fairly vague and unhelpful. I guess "word" will either be a callback or the public notice that they are finished calling back RIFfed teachers.) I'm still sending out sincere applications for other positions; maybe I will find something better, something that opens new professional doors. I am really trying to remain open, although it is difficult to give up the idea of that cycle of the school year in which summer is normally a delicious limbo, a time for professional development and personal recharging.

I'm not exactly sure what kinds of reflections will be coming here in this blog, but I thought I should transition away from the pleading rhetoric from the pre-budget weeks, and forward to what will come next, for our family, for my son, for my career, and for all of Arizona, especially those families with school age children. We will see!

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