Yesterday I started my job as a building substitute at Rocky Hill High School. It’s new in that I am leaving my current job in Middletown, yet old in that it is where I worked last year. It was a tough decision to leave my job as a paraprofessional at Middletown High School, but hopefully this will provide me with the proper short term accomplishments before I depart for Ethiopia. My blog for the pre-departure is meant to explain my thinking process for preparation and the struggle between planning for the short term and long term, so I hope this post helps those who have this same struggle.
It all happened quickly. I was drafting my list for packing (which I will post soon) and realized I might need to buy more things than I originally thought. I ran into Dave Accatino from Rocky Hill, and was talking and reminiscing about my time there as a “floater.” He mentioned that the building substitute and a paraprofessional were leaving and that they needed more help at basketball games. I asked him to put in a word to the principal, Mario Almeida, that I have some interest. I loved my time working at Rocky Hill, my high school alma mater, and the chance to make extra money through wages and after school events were appealing to me.
Pros of leaving:
- More money, especially if I become a paraprofessional. Basketball games pay well, no union dues, and the commute is shorter so less gas money to be paid.
- Short-term happiness with co-worker friends before I leave. Because I know the school and my job last year provided a lot of freedom, I made a lot of friends that I would like to see more of before I leave. Middletown was great, but my connections just were not as strong. That can be blamed on both my time there and the fact that it is a much bigger school. Overall, I was happy at Middeltown, but I would be happier in Rocky Hill being with people I have known for years.
Cons of leaving:
- I’m the type of person that tries to care for the collective over myself individually sometimes. I feel really bad about leaving students at Middletown mid-year whom I have been helping and making an impact. Not to mention, leaving the teachers who relied on my help and now need to forge a working relationship with a new paraprofessional.
- Thinking long term, Middletown is a better spot for connections for when I return and am looking for a job. Middletown is a much bigger school that there would be more of a chance that I could get hired there upon return; especially with the deeper connections I would have made. While Rocky Hill really likes me, the odds of them having a position for me later will be low.
My feeling is that although my move was somewhat selfish, it was necessary. Middletown needs me and I know that from the reactions of teachers and students. However, it occurred to me that I may not know what I want to do when I return. Maybe this experience will change myself as a person and my entire career path. At the moment, I need the financial and moral support from Rocky Hill. The days feel slower (in a good way) and the support I received from the teachers and staff in the past was amazing. I left Middletown on a good note and hope that if I do need to make a return, whether short or long term, they will remember my work ethic and professionalism to trust me with a position.
Another unintended positive that came from moving was the reaction from one particular student. I will keep her name private, but she took the initiative in making a goodbye letter for me. What made this special is that she is a new student from Iraq who does not know much English. She wrote her letter in Arabic and asked her ESL teacher to help her translate correctly with Google Translate.
While the gesture and effort itself is amazing, it also caused me to think about other students who I have had similar reactions with. Students that have had strong positive feelings toward me tend to be those that either do not know English because it is their second language or because of their schooling until now, and students from troubled backgrounds. This was affirmed yesterday as many students whom I had when I was in Rocky Hill in one specific class were so excited that I returned and were trying to visit throughout the day. Never would I have ever expected that students, who only had me as a substitute and a teaching assistant, be lined up outside a classroom just to see me and talk to me, especially from this demographic. Reactions like these are why I want to teach and helps me to believe that I will thoroughly enjoy my time in Ethiopia. Students like these are much more appreciative of the effort from teachers and I feel that the students I will be working with in Ethiopia will have the same attitude toward my work ethic that I intend to have. I have never officially taught English to students, but my ability to have students who come from tough backgrounds enjoy class and my presence will be half the battle in my classroom. I am really happy that I am back in Rocky Hill and am excited for how this move will affect my preparation.
The message I hoped to send across is to be happy before you travel. Make decisions that put you in the best position to travel successfully, but do it in a way that makes your life happier. Never ignore the long term, but put yourself in a position where you can easily pick up where you left off. I will not only come back with possible job prospects if necessary, but hopefully enough money to transition more easily. I’m usually never the type to make decisions to deem to be selfish, but I had to for the sake of my happiness and my ability to travel with less stress.