Sunday, December 15, 2013

when you can't find a job - part 4

***This is a follow-up to my previous posts, When You Can't Find a Job - part 1part 2 and part 3 (which I must say, have been some of my most-read posts so far!)***

It's no secret that I have had an odd assortment of jobs this past year. From selling items online, to organizing and cleaning, to making preserves and gift baskets, to tutoring, I've done it all. And now I'm happy to announce that in addition to doing all of the above, I'm now back to part-time teaching as well.

Because local teaching jobs are so hard to come by (and basically non-existent in the local Christian schools), my only option of getting back into the market was to supply teach. Although the money can be great, supply teaching is not for the faint of heart! It's incredibly stressful walking into a room of 25 kids you don't know, and hoping praying that you can maintain control all day--and if you're lucky, actually get them to do some work. It's the stuff that those "week-before-school-starts-teacher-nightmares" are made of! And it's the reason I usually don't teach older grades (although I did teach high school English and Civics about stepping out of my comfort zone!) I was dreading the prospect of constantly being on-call, never knowing if/when/where I would be working; however, the only way into the public or Catholic school board is to first get on to their supply list. And I had applied for this twice in the past two years, and never received an interview. 

Thus, late in August, armed with my resume and a current police check, I visited several local schools in hopes of getting on some emergency supply teacher lists. This is done on a school-by-school basis, and usually left up to the administrative assistant. I started out with the schools that were within a few minutes' driving distance from home. Thankfully, we are very centrally located--I am within 15 minutes of 3 public schools! One was familiar because I had done a student-teaching placement there. Although my former associate teacher had transferred to another school, the administrative assistant remembered me, and immediately added me to her list. The next school I visited was brand new to me, however it happened to be the school where my former associate teacher now worked. The last school was also brand new to me, but I had a teacher friend who taught there. The administrative assistant was delighted that I had experience in Kindergarten. Having been added to the lists at 3 different schools, all I had to do was wait for a phone call.

My phone was silent for nearly all of September. I assumed that I was not going to have a very busy year, so I continued tutoring and working on my other side businesses. I was also able to help my sister-in-law set up for her first year of homeschooling. Because I wasn't teaching Kindergarten, she was then able to make use of my plans, books, and activities that would have otherwise sat in boxes in our spare room. 

Then I started getting calls. (As the old saying goes, "When it rains, it pours!") And not just for supply teaching, but also for Educational Assistant (EA) supply, and with my background in Kindergarten, Early Childhood Education (ECE) supply. Most recently, I was able to work as an ECE for 8 days in the same classroom! Not only did I have an excellent associate teacher to work with, but also a very well-behaved class! It also gave me the opportunity to get to know the school routines, as well as the other staff.

Some weeks I work full-time, some weeks part-time, and some weeks not at all. Overall, though, I average about one call per week. Even though emergency supply teachers make a lot less than those who are on the board supply list, the money is still good. Combined with my other endeavors, the one-call-a-week is providing nearly the exact amount of extra cash needed for me to stop looking for a permanent job. 

After a frustrating year of searching, applying, and interviewing for non-teaching-related jobs, and still coming up jobless, it appears that God had a plan this whole time. Having this time away from teaching has allowed me to be able to work through some of my pain and past hurts (like the part where I stopped going to church...not so good if you plan on being employed in a Christian school.) So after a year away, it's time to ease back into real life. And right now, I have a strong sense that real life consists of emergency supply teaching.  

Living and working in a small community is not easy for someone with my trust issues who has been burned by one of the churches in that small community. I can't even go to the grocery store without running into someone from my "former life." However, emergency supply work provides the opportunity go into a school and focus on my job for the day; there is no need to form lasting relationships with co-workers or parents, or make small-talk with with someone I'm still trying hard to forgive. It's a relief to go in and do my job, without wondering what everyone is thinking or saying behind my back, and then feeling anxiety over having to face them all again the next day. 

I still hate being on-call, (I have actually lost sleep worrying about if I am going to have to work the next day), but I enjoy the freedom of not being tied down to a specific job. I can decline a call, or quit supplying any time I want. Through this whole process of job-hunting, it's clear that all along, God knew what He was doing. It is not my intention to do emergency supply teaching forever. But it's a good fit for where I'm at right now. And it's another stepping stone on my journey of healing and discovering more of who I am.


  1. God bless you , Donna, with everything you need for each new day.