Drifting

I’ve talked about my job status in this space before; I went from a job I really liked but had to leave because it was eliminated by budget cuts to one I really, really didn’t like. I left that one without first securing something else (lesson learned there!), spent a year out of work, and have landed in another position which is fine, but…
I guess it’s not just the unhappiness with my professional status that’s got me in a funk, though. It’s the constant rejection from places I apply for other jobs (I’ve got enough “Thanks, but no thanks!” letters from prospective employers to paper the walls of my living room), the jealousy I feel towards friends who are landing cool new jobs themselves (I don’t begrudge any of them those jobs, just wish I was getting one, too), and the blows my self-confidence takes every time I’m passed over for someone else.

But one of the worst feelings that’s come from this situation is one of professional… drifting, for lack of a better word. I’m not anchored, professionally-speaking. I’m out of the loop, on the outside looking in at progress and developments in the field to which I’ve devoted 15 years of my adult life. I have reduced opportunity- and inclination- to join in professional conversations on Twitter, and feel like I have little to offer to them, anyway. I’m still reading tweets, articles, and blogs, but find it hard to make a connection to what I’m doing day-to-day.

An example: recently, many of the people I follow on Twitter applied to the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View, CA. This is a really cool professional development opportunity, and Mountain View is the closest GTA in the last couple years. It would have been great to apply myself, but I didn’t feel like I could. My current job doesn’t give me much opportunity to showcase Google tools, apart from using Forms to collect information and Calendar to schedule appointments. I don’t teach kids or present to adults often. So, no GTA for JIM.

I enjoy presenting at education conferences, and have done sessions on technology and administrative topics, but I don’t even feel like I have much to offer in that capacity lately, since so much of a presenter’s authority comes from their practice in the field. How can I teach teachers how to use technology in their classrooms to enhance their students’ access to Common Core State Standards, for example, when I have no classroom, no students I’m teaching, and have yet to interact with the CCSS in any meaningful way?

Adrift. Anchorless.

Now, all is not darkness, gloom, and self-pity in my life, though, and I am very mindful of the positives that have accompanied the negatives during this time. Spending 2 years and change not working and then working from home has given me the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with my sons, taking them to and from school, Scouts, and their other activities. I’ve been able to take the worries about how they’re going to get from place to place off my wife’s shoulders, allowing her to focus on moving her school forward. We’ve saved a lot of money on child care (especially helpful with my much-reduced salary). I’ve gained first-hand experience working in a virtual school program and the charter school system. And our clothes are always freshly laundered! And, while I never thought I was all that prideful, I’ve clearly been learning humility.

I try very hard to maintain a positive outlook, and keep my professional funk from impacting my relationships with my wife, our kids, and my family and friends, and I believe I’ve been pretty successful with that. I realize, though, that without some active funk-breaking on my part, I’ll continue to drift professionally and keeping balance in my life will become more difficult.
I’ve been giving it some thought, lately, with input from my lovely and patient wife, and think it’s going to require a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Exercise- I have the time, so there’s no excuse. And it’s been demonstrated that there’s a positive relationship between physical activity and mood.
  2. Education- I need to make a concerted effort to learn something. Maybe take a class, maybe pursue another credential. But something more than just reading articles; there has to be a purpose to it. Maybe I’ll research a book.
  3. Persist- Sitting around feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to steer this ship (to continue the metaphor). Just because the last 150 attempts failed, doesn’t mean then next one will, too.
  4. Communicate- I have to continue to talk about these things with my family and friends (and blog readers!) which has never been easy for me. But keeping frustrations inside is toxic.


I don’t expect that this will be an easy or quick process, but what choice do I have?

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