So…I’ve talked a little bit about teaching on this blog. When I left Ración last year, I was totally lost and confused about what I was going to do with my life. I was so fed up with the restaurant industry. Don’t get me wrong, I still love food, and dining out, but I couldn’t work in the industry anymore. I learned a lot of good things from working in restaurants. But I also learned a lot of stuff I don’t like. Some people are meant for it, and some are not. I am not one of them. I was sick, and miserable, and frankly, I wanted a life. I never saw my friends, and I am still holding onto hope that one day I will have a family.
Working in a restaurant is the opposite of conducive to having a family, unless you have boss like Alice Waters who truly makes an effort to promote those values. Most places are too understaffed and too over-focused on the bottom line to be accommodating unless you’re at a management level. And even then, it’s hard. Most people I know at the management level, including myself, are way too committed to their jobs. They are on call ALL the time. They answer emails and panicked phone calls from staff at ungodly hours, because they don’t know how to stop. And then shit hits the fan and you end up in the emergency room in horrible crippling pain because your body has given in to the stress. And then you get fired for being in the emergency room. And because restauranteurs are all crazy, they call you in 2 months later and ask you to come back and work for them. Yeah.
Having kids like that? Nope? How would I be able to pick them up from school? I’d already be at work? Seeing them in the school play? Yeah, right. Managing to get out of bed in the morning to make them breakfast and pack their lunch after getting home from work at 1am? Nope. And who watches the kids while you work? Especially if your partner is in the industry? Some of this stuff was BRIEFLY touched up on in the response to TIME Magazine’s “Gods of Food” article. Teresa Montaño, who I worked for, is quoted talking about family. Just knowing how she and her partner work, I can’t imagine them finding time to raise kids. It would really be a struggle. I would like to see this idea of balancing family in the restaurant industry explored more. I think it’s valuable, and I think it speaks to many larger issues that are present in the restaurant industry.
Additionally I also felt like I wasn’t offering the world anything by doing restaurant work. Who benefits? People who can afford it, especially at the fine dining level. There’s nothing wrong with eating at a restaurant. I do it often. But I wanted to feel like I was DOING something…something that in my own small way, would help change the world. I had no idea what this was, but I wasn’t going to find it managing another restaurant.
I explored the idea of nursing. Then I realized sometimes nursing is really gross. And while I know a lot about medicine (I had a doctor ask me if I had a background in medicine recently…) actually dealing with it, is not so much my cup of tea.
Then I thought I wanted to be a 911 operator/dispatcher. I thought that would be a kind a job where I could help people, albeit somewhat indirectly. I started looking into it, but I guess it wasn’t really my thing because I didn’t pursue it too strenuously.
In the meantime I had started volunteering at a church as a faith formation teacher, and realized, I LIKE THIS! And it kinda snowballed from there, with a little help and guidance from a very pushy (in a good way) friend and my faith formation boss ladies, into helping during summer school and also taking on Sunday school. (I talked a little bit about summer school here.) I was hoping to get a position at the school but that didn’t work out, although I did get on the substitute list and got a couple calls for that.
Then there was a networking event for alums of my high school, and I mentioned I was switching careers. I got put in touch with a couple different people, and one of them being first grade teacher at a (different) Catholic school in the area, who happened to have an aide who was leaving. Next thing I know I’m hired!
I split my day between 1st and 3rd grade, and although my day isn’t that long, and so far I’m really enjoying it, I find that I’m EXHAUSTED all the time. Since I’ve started I haven’t really been to ballet because I’m usually asleep! But between this, and teaching Sunday school and confirmation classes, I really think I’ve found my calling.
It’s funny because I avoided it for SO long. People used to tell me as a kid I would make a great teacher and I should think about it when I got older. I always gave them a look of disgust and rolled my eyes. I was never going to teach. It was a lot of work, kids are brats, and the pay is terrible. But I totally have a new perspective. It’s fun, and I like seeing a kid’s face light up when they have a “lightbulb” moment. I like planning lessons and activities. I like feeling like I’m doing something that directly contributes to the future of our world, hopefully for the better. I like organizing and crafts and all that teacher-y stuff. And the bad stuff? Well it’s still early, so maybe I’m just not overwhelmed by it yet.
I still have SO much to learn. I think my next step will be to at least take the CBEST. Haven’t done that yet. I’m a little freaked out, because I was looking at some practice math questions and some of that stuff I haven’t done in a really long time, and truth be told, I was struggling a little bit. Then I need to find a credential program that works for me so I can move on to a real teaching position eventually. I’m really enthusiastic, though, about this new path.
Next week, coming back from Thanksgiving, the first grade teacher will be out, recovering from a tonsillectomy. She requested that I fill in instead of an outside sub. I feel like that’s a huge vote of confidence. I am a little nervous, but incredibly excited. Wish me luck on that!
I just hope I don’t get sick. Kids are like petri dishes of airborne disease just waiting to infect you…