XXXI: Full Scene

I’ve been starting this specific post for nearly a week now. There’s been so much going on during the week that by the time the evening hits, I’m completely toast and I need to just go to bed (after the gym…sometimes). This is why you’ve witnessed so many “Mobile Minutes” posts throughout the past couple weeks. My objective this evening is to give you a full run-down on some crazy events that have led to an official new job inside the education sector.

Warning: There is some…length…to this.

If you will, recall the fall of 2013. After leaving Subway after ten years, and spending of summer unemployed, I went back into the education system as a substitute teacher. It was during that time that I cultivated a wonderful relationship with a specific middle school inside the district that I was working in. The middle school had dynamics, flair, and tons of drama. Most notably though was the fact that it had a high percentage of teachers that wanted to be in school, and wanted to take on the challenges that the students came in with. I graduated college as an education major, devoted to teaching high school and avoiding middle school at all costs. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would have fallen in love working with the smelly, awkward, and overall strange pre-pubescent insanity that we refer to as “middle school students”. It was the perfect place for me, I could energetic, psychotic, and around nuts and still be complimented on the job I was doing. I had even told Darco, a few weeks after I had started there last year, “I’m not planning on going back into education, but if I had to this would be the school that’d do it.” It basically meant that selfishly that middle school was the only place that I’d openly, willingly be curious about entering as an educator.

Sadly, nearing the time in 2013 that I thought I was going to be at that school for the long haul, I received a job offer that I couldn’t refuse. That moved me away from teaching for the third time in my life. Personally, I thought it was just the nail in the coffin that God merely didn’t want me in education. However, the nightmares started shortly after that. I would dream about students and instructors at that school, nothing tragic, and I would awake with a heavy heart. I was missing the fact that I was having fun at my job.

Nearing the summer of 2014 I had nearly, completely forgotten about school, kids, education, classrooms, and everything else. That all changed in the end of August when I was relieved of my job in the social media marketing industry. The only fall back that I knew I had was to go back to being a substitute teacher. While I floated through different schools in August, I kept looking at openings, hoping that I substitute position would open at the specific middle school that I had left behind in 2013. Finally, at 5:30 AM in the morning, I woke up and checked to see for any openings and found one…at that specific middle school.

When word in the school began to circulate that I was back in the building, nearly a year since my departure, it was as if the prodigal son had returned home. There was hugs, and screams, and just about every other thing you’d never suspect to take place that did take place in those halls. I left that afternoon beaming, I was so, so happy to be back, especially being back with the 6th grade students and teachers. The following week I began to fill for a teacher in that hall, not knowing that over a four week time period, I would practically take over an entire classroom.

What started as a routine job quickly escalated into two, three, four, and more days. I was scratching my head while I was also preparing lesson plans, grading papers, and even entering grades into the computer. Somehow I became responsible for ensuring that all 103 students had their grades entered for this class at the end of the first quarter. I was being asked to spend time at school during “In-Service” days so I could prepare the classroom and sit through meetings. It was during that time that I was even given an award by the 6th grade teachers for stepping in as a substitute teacher.

All in all, I was living an absolute dream. The students, the instructors, the building, the curriculum, and the optimism were all intoxicating to me. I felt so alive from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, it was my life, my joy, and I had completely forgotten that it was my job.

Tragically though, all things must eventually come to an end. The teacher I was filling for wound up taking a new job within the district, making the position I was in open to be filled…and it had to be filled. In heart-breaking fashion I had to confess to the administration that my teaching certificate was expired, meaning that technically I wasn’t licensed to teach in the state. That moment sealed my fate, my own laziness cost me a full time job in the classroom that I had been grooming for an entire month.

The sensation of knowing that my services were no longer needed was easily the equivalent to my ex-wife telling me she was leaving. In fact, the same words I used in 2011 to get me through work during the summer of the divorce were the exact same words I used to keep composure inside that school:

You’re alright. You’re alright.

Thankfully, one of the instructors noticed that I was “off” and took me for ice cream that day. There was a celebration party for the new teacher, and a farewell party for me. Though the going joke was even though I wouldn’t be in that classroom, I would probably still be in the building roaming around in other classrooms. I had already started the process of finding ways to reactivate my teaching license, because the sheer joy of the experience was enough to smack me in the face with the obvious reality:

This is where I need to be.

In the following days, recognizing my own defeat, I was quickly picked up for the vacant position in the specific education department in the same school. Interestingly enough, the individual who took the teaching position that I had been filling for was in the special education department. With her moving within the building it created a gap that needed to be temporarily filled until the school hired a new person for their former position. Does that make sense?

It was quickly decided that I would fill the role as a substitute teacher until it was permanently filled. At the same time I discovered a teacher within the building was going to retire at the end of the year, they taught courses in areas that I was actually certified for; social studies. I had also learned back in 2010 and 2011 that in order to get into a school full time, you need to know the right people. Substitute teaching frequently in the same school is the secret of success in that direction (long before this site was ever made, substitute teaching was what got me hired on as a teacher in a previous life). Meaning, if I knew that some teachers were going to be gone at the end of this school year then it would be wise to get into the school as much as possible, be active, and get recertified as a teacher. I’d have to give up the notion of teaching for the 2014-2015 school year, and would have to set my direction on 2015-2016 instead.

I made my purpose and direction very clear to the administration and the teachers within the building. While this was going on I was also learning a crash-course in special education, an area that I’m extremely lacking in knowledge. Being in special education turned out to be wonderful. I had 14-15, twenty minute sessions, one-on-one with students struggling in reading fluency and writing. This included word comprehension and phonetics, something that I had to be placed in a class for when I was in elementary school. The other group I had dealt primarily with behavioral issues. They were not in the standard classroom because some sort of behavioral problem kept them from being able to calmly engage with their peers and instructors. They were easily my favorite because I could dig into them, and try to understand how and why they rationalized what they did, and how they justified their actions.

I think people within the school started to notice that I was enjoying myself. One day last week while I was walking in between classes (I worked out of three different classrooms throughout the day) I was stopped by the principal of the school. He asked if I had time the following day for an interview, an interview to become the full time instructor in the position that I was currently substituting for. The interview was nice and smooth, and a few days later I was requested to fill out the online application for the district (IT TOOK THREE HOURS OF MY LIFE). Finally, on Friday, after I had been moved into a new room for my interventions and all the kids were away I was asked to call the central office of the school district that I was in.

“The Desk”

The first phrase I heard…

We would like to offer you this position at this middle school building. Would you want to accept this offer?

Long story short (HA!) I easily accepted the offer, and my first day will officially be next Tuesday. Ironically, I have been in this school as a substitute teacher for every day for the past seven weeks.

Frankly, I’m blessed. I knew in 2013 that this school was special, and something unique just drew my attention away from everything else in the world. On Tuesday I’ll start my first day as an actual employee inside of a school district.

Now you know why I’ve been a bit busy lately….


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