Thursday, August 14, 2003

My other teaching job

I'm kind of short on time right now, but I thought I'd take a couple of moments to talk about my other teaching job (as you might guess from the title of this entry). For the past two years, when money was tight and it looked like I wasn't going to get a "real" teaching job any time soon, I've been working evenings and summers at the Sylvan Learning Center in Kirkland, just down the road a bit. It's been an anchor that I've probably needed. I've seen many of the same teachers every day, and even had the chance to talk to some of them and trade ideas and stories and the like -- in other words, they were the colleagues I couldn't find anywhere else. And the work was interesting. I'd teach up to three students at a time, and they'd all be working on different subjects at different levels. It could get to be an interesting proposition if all three of them needed my attention at once, but overall it seems to work. Those students who take to the system and the individual attention, and work at it, can thrive.

But it also took its toll on me. For a long time I worked four nights a week, three hours of teaching plus filling out paperwork per night, on top of substitute teaching during the day. My family knew about this, and so my folks, earlier this year, finally offered to offset my loss of income if I'd cut down to two nights a week, provided that I used the extra time to apply for jobs. Well, as much as I hate being thirty-seven years old and still taking money from my parents, it was worth it. My stress levels went way down, and I felt better about my job hunt. And, as you probably know by now, it paid off with that ever elusive "real" teaching job.

Last summer Sylvan had teaching going on twenty hours a week. I was able to teach during all that time, and that was a big help in keeping the wolf from the door. This summer, even though I put in for that many hours again, I've only gotten about half of that, so once more we're in dire financial straits (although not as bad as I was afraid it would be -- yet), but at least I know this financial crisis has a light at the end of the tunnel. But the lessened hours has made me think about Sylvan and what an important role it's had for me in the last two years. I may grumble about overwork and not having free evenings, but they did keep my head above water, and for that I will always be grateful. My first thought was to not go back at all this fall, now that I have that real teaching job, but I decided to stay, at least for a bit, to supplement my income. Good thing they'll be offering classes Saturday mornings, as that's about the only time I can teach there comfortably, and one of the few times most of my colleagues don't want to teach. Still, if it turns out to be too much, I should be able to leave with a clear conscience.

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