20 August 2010

On Optimism

The school year is staring me down. And if I had to personify it, I would say that it's probably doing so with red, beady eyes and a taunting grin.

petrify v.t. to benumb or paralyze with astonishment, horror, or other strong emotion

This is almost the word I am looking for.

I can't say that I am not frightened by the prospect of not having a teaching job in two weeks.  I'm almost petrified. I say "almost petrified," because I'm terrified sometimes to the point that I want to give up. I want to let this job search reach a standstill. I want to stop scouring the postings, writing these carefully researched cover letters, and driving for hours to interview after interview. This usually happens after a phone call from an administrator letting me know that they're going forward with someone more experienced, albeit telling me that I was the other top candidate or that I interviewed "so well."  Thanks. That's awesome. I'm glad the 10 interviews (yep, you read that right. You left your chin on the floor back there.) worth of practice has...not paid off?

And then, when another job posting pops up, or I get another invitation to interview, I realize that attitude isn't going to get me anywhere. I've seen how much can happen in just a matter of hours in this endeavor. I see my former classmates land jobs, which means there are triumphs to be had out there. Plus, my mother starts in on me.

And if it's things out of my control, like experience or a second certification in another core subject that I don't have yet, that are holding me back--well, that's just it. These are things that are out of my control.

So, when I do have my own students, and when they're feeling like nothing is going their way or like their only option is to give up on something they want, I'm not going to hesitate to tell them often (i.e. pull my handy soapbox out from under my desk and climb up to the top of it) that you cannot give up on what is important to you.  In the end, it will be the things that we've felt challenged by that make our successes all the more sweet.

And it won't be as embarrassing when the Fresh Prince walks in on you doing this:

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