Thursday, October 25, 2012

I’m my own boss and other things I’ve accepted

Palace Green @ Durham, England

The leaves are changing and Fall is here. That means school is in session and I’m still at my computer. While this use to bother me greatly, I’ve finally accepted that what my job is, is going to be done from home.

I started out as a teacher when I graduated college. I was a substitute/supply teacher, and searched high and low for a full time position. I just could not find one because I didn’t have experience or an Education degree (something everyone dismissed in the English Department.) When I finally started working full-time after the school year started, I had no classroom of my own. Each day I had to push a cart or drag my books around and try to make it to other teacher’s classrooms in time, just to have them complain about how I used their whiteboard or how my students were too close to their desk. I finally was given a classroom – a portable – only to have the air conditioning break…repeatedly…in Florida…in August. Kids broke that as well as the railing that led up to the front door (and put any kind of obscenity on the windows.) Whenever I asked for help for these things, I was told to, “just push through that kind of stuff.” As a teacher, I had parents yell at me in the front office because their kid didn’t do their homework. I was given “help” on how to deal with troubled kids which entailed random people spying on me then reporting to admin while talking bad about me to my students in the process. Most of the schools I worked at had a high turn out rate and teachers like me were used for a term or two (usually hired in when someone quite mid-term). The discipline policies were a joke, the kids didn’t fear anything (they aren’t dumb – they knew nothing was going to happen to them if they go to the Dean’s office.) I really liked my students though and I wanted to do a good job. I taught until my temporary contract was over. But I never went back to public schools.

When I taught at college, it was fine by me. I went to work for a few hours, helped the students out, then gave them info online and was able to work from home. Granted then I was still able to get Unemployment because I had such little money but it was enjoyable work. This is why I decided to get my Library Science degree – to work with students in the capacity that I enjoy. The librarians I saw weren’t responsible for FCAT scores, daily grading and lesson planning. They conducted lessons during faculty meetings on resources for teachers and showed students how to use the online catalogue. I loved that kind of stuff, so I got my degree.

Before I moved to the UK, I did my internship at a great, little library over the summer. I learned as much I could from everyone and really enjoyed the atmosphere of being in a place that helped people get interested in books – especially the little kids. But by the time I got here last January, I’ve not been able to do anything and that’s where my acceptance has finally kicked in. It’s been there for a while but I didn’t really go, “Okay, I get it. This is what I’m doing,” until this week.

Yesterday I got two rejection letters – one in email about a part-time library assistant job and one letter about an hourly wage GCSE (high school diploma) teacher. Some of the teaching agencies I’ve signed up for have called in the most inconvenient times like when I was on vacation or at the last minute when I have no car or money for the bus or clue how to get to the school. I’m set up to help out during testing at a school in November and I’m happy to take the job. I’m always told that my resume is in for various English teaching positions but I know I won’t get them. And I don’t care anymore. Even if I work five days out of this whole year (as opposed to the zero I worked last year) it won’t make a difference to a Head Teacher who wants to hire someone with experience in British schools. Plus, I’m not sure how stressful teaching is here compared to Florida. Do kids here crawl on top of desks and jump out windows too?

While the £50-£100 a day would be nice as a supply teacher, constantly spinning my wheels and trying to force something that’s just not going to happen isn’t worth the effort and stress. Trying to get somewhere within an hour without any kind of warning is just a pain in the butt. Also, the applications for teaching jobs are long and arduous. Schools won’t interview anyone until they’ve spoken to their references and I’m tired of bothering the nice people in Central Florida over and over again to fill out five page reference sheets. I’ve only been asked to interview for library jobs and despite being in the bottom two (and having references from a NASA contractor, thank you very much), I never get the job. Still, I’ll keep applying for jobs such as that but in the meantime I have plenty to do at home.

I’ve been working on my project that still has to get out the door. I have NaNoWriMo to work on in a week so I can get the draft of the second in the series finished up. I’ve been researching whether I need to register a Fictitious Name or DBA to have my own imprint. (According to Florida law, I do because it’s not my legal name, even if I use my name and put “Books” at the end of it.) I don’t have a lot of cash to do these things but I have an old Blackberry to trade in for the cash to get all my literary ducks in a row. (I also plan on writing a whole blog post on that process in the near future as well.)

The truth is, knowing that I’ve accepted my position as a self-employed person is really scary. A lot will depend on me to research, market, and, of course, write to keep the project going. The work is there and for the time being and it’s work that I want to do.

With that said, it’s time to get back to work! If you’re taking part this year, feel free to visit my NaNoWriMo profile and add me as a buddy.

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