On Saturday night I drove up to Spirit Lake to judge a spirit competition between two rivalry schools. When I was in high school we had Fight for the Fish and it was a big basketball game event. First the girls played and then the boys and all the while the entire school is cheering and dancing and trying to prove to whoever got to decide that we were the ones who should take home a painted wooden rainbow trout to lord it over the other school that we got spirit yes we do, we got spirit how about you!? And so, this year I was that person armed with my pencil and paper and innate sense of school spirit.
I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to go. It was snowing in big chunky flakes and I had to drive half an hour away on roads that were less than ideal. Plus, I was going to a nerdy high school event and it was starting to bring back all the feelings.
Sitting in the gymnasium, staring at the painted posters and the decked out students in their crazy school colored outfits definitely brought back the memories. Last year this was me. I had my advanced art students work on the posters for our version of the spirit competition and we were taping things up at the very last minute, scrambling to have everything in place. It was all melodramatic and exciting.
Being laid off, while incredibly different from being fired, still left me feeling like I failed. Mostly I can shove that feeling away and go about my every day life as a local artist and juice bar manager, but sometimes I still get angry about what happened. I didn't want to be one of the statistics that says a certain percentage of teachers don't make it past their first year. I wanted to teach for longer than that.
But then, when I was there in the trenches, lesson planning and grading and dealing with students on a daily basis I kind of wanted to rip all the hairs out of my head, you know? It's always glorified in my memory because people just choose to remember the good. However, the first year of teaching is always, always, always the hardest. No amount of preparedness on paper actually makes you ready for what you experience when those kids are in your classroom expecting knowledge to exude from your being every day.
I actually think that it was a good thing I got laid off because I didn't feel like I was actually growing up there. I had been in school my whole life and teaching was just a step up from that while still being eerily the same. I looked like a student even though I dressed professionally and I felt like I was still a little kid. Being the youngest person on staff with little to no experience in my field just made me crazy. My classroom management wasn't what it should have been and I had a really hard time disciplining my students when they misbehaved because I was terrified of calling their parents.
Living and working outside of the school system has been really fun for me. I get to do artwork for myself and I am learning how to market and manage a business - which I actually really enjoy. Marketing and running the instagram page for the juice bar and posting on the Facebook wall have been a real adventure. Especially because while I was still in college, this is the kind of work that I dreamed about. And then I decided to teach instead.
Judging this competition made me do some hard thinking, though. And not just about which team deserved the mounted antlers the most. My super intendant from last year was also at the game. He said hello and told me that they may be opening a position up in the district next year and I should keep my eyes open. I smiled and nodded and said I would look into it, but inwardly I kind of panicked. Is this something that I want? Or do I want to stay at the juice bar?
I guess this is what adulthood feels like.