I’m not from this class, not from this educational background, not from this.... well, not from, or deserving, of all of this (raises arms and looks around). At least that’s how I often feel.
It’s really no secret that I have self-esteem issues, and not in a narcissistic way, just read some of my past writing you’ll get the idea. I feel like an imposter in my life, in my own world, in fact I don’t feel as if I have a world that I fit in at all. I live in fear of being found out.
I’ve been out of the job market for several years. By the mutual decision of my partner and I, I am staying home to raise our child. I have begun to dip my feet back in the teaching waters, looking for half-time special education positions nearby. It’s a dauntless task, not many exist and schools often hire from within their substitute teacher pools. I’ve tried subbing, but with limited days, distance, and hours, it’s just not happening.
First some background I suppose. My last teaching gig was teaching incarcerated males between the ages of 15 and 18 in a Special Day Class (SDC -- special education classification mostly consisting of moderate learning disabilities or emotional disturbances that remain predominantly in one classroom, with one special education teacher throughout the school day). These students mostly have gang violence and/or drug concerns that lead them to my classroom door. Honestly, I didn’t usually ask why they were there, and only rarely did probation feel I NEEDED to know the crime of any particular student (and when they did it was for the safety of other students and/or myself).
My husband is proud of what I do, he and certain friends would trot my job title out at parties when I was new to the social group because it sounds so damned badass. But really it was the safest job I’ve ever had. Generally speaking those kids were sober, had enough sleep, were safe, had 3 square meals served to them, and often were the safest they had been in their whole lives. There is a lot of sadness and commentary in that last sentence, but this post is about me.
To be only a little bit full of myself: I was good at it. The probation officers in the classroom *liked* being in my classroom. They learned, they were sometimes part of the classroom conversation, they weren’t utterly bored with a high school SDC class as they, and others, expected to be. More importantly I held control of my classroom. I may not have a lot of faith in myself in many respects, but I’m damned good at what I do and it isn’t something most people can do.
But I digress with backstory. Being out of the teaching game for 4 years I had forgotten much about me as a teacher. I asked my former principal for a letter of recommendation and he had the most wonderful things to say. He emailed me a copy of the letter. At first I almost thought it was fake, or about someone else, it had been 4 years, clearly I wasn’t *that* good.
“[E]ngages the students with ease and treats them with respect (that she expects reciprocated from each and every one of them). The inherent demands of the students require that they look for an adult who provides consistency, “equity” and “fairness”. Ms. [eeyore_grrl] has always passed that test, and survived and thrived in working with this population of students.”
“She has convinced probation staff that she can manage these students in non-secure surroundings and that the students can definitely benefit from such experiences.”
I’ve seen teachers come and go in that environment. Bright, good teachers, that just couldn’t hack the roughness of the students and the limitations of teaching in an incarceration facility. I’ve seen teachers afraid to take their classes on field trips. I’ve seen teachers that were too harsh and more that were too kind, trying to make friends in a manner. I was there to teach. And they were the best behaved students I have EVER taken on field trips.
Not only did I do it, other people noticed that I am, indeed, a bad ass mother fucker and could not only handle these kids, but help them thrive in an environment that often stilts. Help them with academics, social concerns, and the general skills to get along in a classroom and life.
Maybe I’ll keep this email open in a tab in the background and read it when I start to feel down on myself. It’s nice to read, and it’s nice to feel that others appreciate my teaching skills too.
This is one of two entries for this week's lj idol. There are plenty more by others coming your way. http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/
If it is an open vote I will post voting info when it arrives.
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