Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mi Vida Loca

You guys. I’m tired.

First of all, the job is going great. Having to go to work everyday is a gigantic life change, and trying to juggle it with school is making my life extremely complicated, but the job is awesome!

I work at two different schools with three different teachers in four different classes, and the program is new to the district, so right now it’s a LOT of chaos while everyone figures out how this program is supposed to work. Each teacher does it slightly differently and each class has a slightly different dynamic, so I’ve had to adjust to a lot of things all at once. It’s still kind of stressful for everyone while we figure all of this out. But overall, the job is awesome! I get to sit in a classroom with teenagers and brainstorm their problems. That’s kind of the thing I’m the very best at. Unlike a lot of people, I actually love teenagers. I like their sassiness, I like their energy, I even like it when they sit there and roll their eyes at me, because that means I get to work on getting through to them, and I like that!

My job consists of working in small groups of kids and they take turns presenting a problem that they have come across in another class, it could be a math problem they got wrong on a test, a science concept they’re stuck on, it doesn’t matter, they bring a problem and then we work as a group to help them work through it. Not by showing them how to get the answer, but by asking them a series of questions to help them figure it out themselves. Things like “what do you already know about the problem.” “What resources do you have with you that might help you solve the problem?” (ie, did you bring your math book or your science notes?) or “based on what you already know, what do you think your next step is?”. We basically help them brainstorm problem solving techniques until they can find a way to solve their own problem. This program is designed to target the kids who give up easily. Kids who don’t have a lot of resources and might drop out without intervention. This program gives them the skills and confidence to keep going when they want to give up. The goal is to get them to learn to problem solve on their own, to get in the habit of seeking out resources when they have a problem instead of giving up and to learn critical thinking skills that will get them through high school and hopefully on to college.

So it’s really fun because the problems are constantly changing. We walk someone through working out a math problem and then we might immediately switch to helping someone figure out a method for memorizing Spanish verb conjugation. You never know what’s coming next! It’s fun in that way. The kids are always hesitant at first, but then they get really into it. Watching someone who is convinced that they don’t know the answer have a lightbulb moment and realize that they actually CAN figure it out is the best thing.

The other day I had a kid who just wasn’t able to figure out a problem, but he kept referencing what his teacher had said about it. So I said “ok, so explain it to me exactly the way the teacher explained it to you.” And 30 seconds into his explaination the lightbulb went on and it just clicked. He realized knew the answer, he just needed to talk it all out. I love it.

So the job is great and it’s the perfect job for me right now. However, trying to fit it into my already crazy life has been hard. It’s taking away a lot of my study time, so I end up putting a lot of stuff off and then cramming it all in when I have time, and that’s really hard. My Saturdays are now packed  with homework.

The great thing about working for the school though is that if the kids aren’t there, I don’t have to be there. So any teacher work days, snow days, holidays, etc, I get the day off. There tends to be several of those throughout the year, so that will help. I get thanksgiving week off, a long Christmas vacation, etc. School jobs are awesome in that way. So I look forward to those days. I will get some breaks to help lighten the load a bit. I know that tons of people work and go to school and raise kids. It’s just new for me. I’ll adjust.

And to add more craziness to my life, I recently signed up to foster kittens for a local cat shelter. I currently have three of the cutest four week old kittens living in my basement. It’s kind of like having a house full of toddlers, and I really don’t know why I’m taking it on in the middle of everything else, but kittens are cute and I couldn’t say no. It’s extra work, but I get to cuddle with kittens, and that’s kind of my happy place.

So things are good. Crazy, busy, insane and I think I might drown, but you’s fine, lol. It’s good stuff, just a lot of it. I’ll survive. :)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

I got a job!

On another edition of “can my life get any crazier?” I now have a job!

So part of my college experience has been putting together a LinkedIn profile and starting to gather stuff for grad school applications. And what I have discovered during this process is that I have NOTHING. I haven’t worked in 17 years. I have no experience, no professional contacts, pretty much  nothing.

So I’ve been going to my mentor in a panic and he reassured me that it’s fine but has encouraged me to find something to put on a resume. I’ve been thinking about doing volunteer work or something, but I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to even look.

Then a few weeks ago I stumbled across a listing for a job with the school district. I wasn’t really looking for a job, but this one caught my eye because it sounds exactly like something I would love to do. They’re starting a program in our district for high schoolers who would be a good fit for college in theory, but aren’t currently doing well in school for one reason or another. They identify those kids and offer them an elective to help them get on track for college. The class has a teacher, but they were looking for someone to be kind of a mentor for the program. To work with the kids, encourage them, help them in the classroom and facilitate group activities. The job listing said it was part time, two days a week, which would work perfect with my schooling.

This is right up my alley and exactly the kind of thing I’m good at. I love working with teenagers, and there’s no one who understands struggling to get on track for college better than me! Being the mother of teenagers, a college student myself, and working towards a counseling degree, this job was perfect for me. So on a whim, I applied. I haven’t applied for a job in 20 years, and to be honest I didn’t think I was going to get it. Every stay at home mom in the city wants a part time job with the school district. I assumed they’d probably get a hundred appplications, mine would get lost in the shuffle and I’d never hear anything about it. My application was almost embarrassing, because there was no job history on it or anything. I didn’t even submit a resume with it, because my resume is basically blank at this point. But I did really play up my schooling, because what I’ve been learning in school right is right on point with this job. I’m a great candidate in that way.

A week went by and I didn’t hear anything, so I kind of forgot about it, and then I got a really bad cold and was miserably sick in bed for a few days. Then, in the midst of my cold medicine induced haze, I got the call that they wanted me to come in for an interview, and to submit a resume. I was really sick, but not going to pass that up, so I agreed. I spend a frantic day putting together a resume. I shoehorned any possible relevant information on it and emailed it off.

The next day I drug myself out of bed, got dressed up and headed off for the interview. I was still getting over a cold, and I had that cold medciney head in the clouds feeling, but I was so determined to pull it together. I walked in there and it was a panel of three people. Two vice principles and the coordinator of the program. I haven’t had a job interview in so long, and I’m so not good at this. It was scary!

But they started firing questions at me, and it was actually really funny, because it turns out that school has totally prepared me for this. I answer essay questions for school all day long. I have answered a billion questions about child development, socialization in schools, community intervention and every other related topic over the past year. They started asking me questions about motivating teenagers and college related stuff, and my school training just took over. I knew stuff I didn’t even remember I knew, lol. Thank you college! I felt like it went really well.

And apparently so did they because they called me the next day and offered me the job! But here’s the problem. It’s not two days a week like the job listing said. It’s every day for a few hours in the afternoon. That’s tricky for me because of school. I do homework all day while my kids are in school. That’s precious study time for me. And now I’m going to lose a good portion of that time every day. I’ll be honest, I’m still not totally sure how I’m going to pull it off, but I’m going to make it work. Plenty of people work and go to school. It’s just new for me. This job is perfect for me, it will help so much with grad school applications, and the little bit of extra money will really be nice. I’m just going to do it and make it work somehow. Life is about to get a little crazy. I have a job! I start in a week. I haven’t had to go to a job everyday for almost two decades, so this feels really weird. I need to go shopping for work clothes, because I live in yoga pants and I have no idea how to dress professionally for a job. But I’m really excited about this! This is probably the first job in my entire life that I’ve ever actually wanted and had specific skills for. I’ve had plenty of jobs in my life pre-kids, but they were all just random entry level jobs I took because I needed money. This is the first time I feel like I’m actually going to do something that I’m good at, trained for and genuinely enthusiastic about. That feels really good. I genuinely want to help motivate kids and help them get on track for college. If there is anyone who understands the significance of a college education, it’s me. And while this job isn’t counseling, it’s somewhere in the realm. It’s the opportunity to help people, and that’s what my goal has been all along.

So that’s what’s new with me! Life is about to change in a big way, and I’m nervous and excited! I’ll let you know how it goes!