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Purgatory

I haven’t posted in a long time. Mostly it’s because of this feeling of being at loose ends, in limbo – in a sort of purgatory, if you will.

The job market for teachers where I live is very tough right now. Funding at the provincial level that trickles down to the local districts was cut yet again at the end of last year, and I was one of the victims of said funding cuts (almost all ‘temporary’ teaching contracts get the same treatment whenever it looks like money is tight). It’s not really anything I can blame anybody in particular for – you need to pay teachers, and hard choices that no one likes get made in that sort of situation.

So, in absence of job prospects, what do you do with your life?

There are short and easy answers, fairly typical answers, things like: “Take your resume around to everybody you can; catch up on sleep; play some videogames in some of your spare time that isn’t spent job-hunting; etc.”. For me as a musician as well as teacher, I end up doing things like musical theatre, any gigs I can lay my hands on, and substitute teaching.

I’ve spoken a fair bit before I got hired onto a temporary contract about subbing, but it’s different going back to that when you’ve had a taste of what it’s like to be in the classroom all the time. In particular, one day stood out for me earlier in this school year – I went back for a day of teaching at the school I had worked at all the previous year. It was nice to see students I knew and cherished again, but it also made my stomach roil and my soul hurt – these are students I love and don’t get to see almost ever anymore. It’s one of those dull aches that I assume are similar to having a separation from a partner, children, or beloved pet. I didn’t, and don’t, like it.

You also fall behind your peers. For anyone who isn’t a teacher and/or doesn’t know exactly what teachers do with those random Fridays off that we get occasionally, in Canada teachers are obligated to work together and continually try to improve their practice. These days are often linked by thematic ideas: working on classroom communities, teaching using acting, techniques to improve reading acquisition skills, etc. Well, I don’t get to do any of that when I’m just a substitute teacher. And as I am no longer in a full-time university program, I don’t get the same opportunities to develop my knowledge and practice, both of which are things that can be very helpful in obtaining the next job that comes along.

So what I have decided to do is read some books and articles, trying to put myself in a position where maybe I have a slightly unique set of teacher knowledge to bring to the table at my next interview. I am also going to review those books on here for any of you that are interested in learning, teaching, behaviour, or neuroscience (books I choose about learning tend to have strong brain-research correlations).

Maybe then I can get out of Dante’s second book.

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