Thursday, February 28, 2013

Make Sure the Lawnmower Works...

Monday, February 25, 2013
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a pity-party or a complaining blog but it seems that way after reviewing it. I am going to post it anyway because sometimes you just need to let it all out and get your feelings out instead of bottling them up! If you want to stop reading now... I totally understand! If you care to read on... Thank you and I covet your prayers! Thank you!

This time 2 years ago at this time I had just returned from the 2010-2011 OMEA conference in Tulsa and I was putting new procedures and practices into my band rehearsals. In fact, I was also preparing for my upcoming OSSAA District Band Contest. This particular year we were playing a very difficult contest piece and a march in 6/8 time. We had been rehearsing long and hard hours and were ready to take the stage and perform. We arrived in Konawa, OK and performed very well. We ended up getting a I- II- II on stage and a I in sight-reading, I was very disappointed but praised my kids for their hard work. Throughout that school year I had built rapport with my students better than previous years and I was really beginning to feel a sense of belonging.
I had been teaching at Grove for the past 5 years and, like most people, I had my moments of complaining and feeling like I wanted to be elsewhere but overall I went to work happy each day, being able to do what I loved to do on a daily and routine basis. This particular year at Grove, I was more involved within the staff and I was also able to be a mentor teacher to a student from OBU (who in turn took the band position when I left). In fact, it was this year at Grove that I was awarded the Teacher of the Year for the 10-11. This allowed me to also win the Pottawatomie County Teacher of Today as well as entered in the Oklahoma (statewide) Teacher of the Year program. I actually made it all the way to one of the final rounds for that contest, but since I was not going to be teaching in the state of Oklahoma the following year, I was eliminated from the competition.
It was also during this school year that I was chosen by my band directing peers to be the new Middle School Band District Honor Band Chair for the 2011-2012 school year. This position moved forward each addition year to where in 3 years I would have been the ECBDA Band President. Again, this is something I had wanted for quite some time. I was also asked by a peer during the month of April to come and adjudicate at their small school solo and ensemble contest for the following year in October. Again, it seemed like everything was finally to “flow” my way and I was very happy with my career. But somehow there was something inside me that wanted more.
Earlier in that school year the OU Pride of Oklahoma Assistant Band Director Job had come open and I was interested in the necessities to apply for it. Teaching collegiate band was a LIFELONG dream of mine and as a 28 year old veteran teacher with a Master’s degree, I wanted to see if I was qualified for the position. After researching the qualifications, I discovered that even though I was an OU alumnus and had a Master’s degree coupled with 6 years of public school teaching, I was not even able to apply for the job since all of my experience was in middle school band and not in High School Marching Band. This obviously made since to me but the fact that I could not even apply really bothered me and it was from that moment that I had a desire to move to a High School position, not because I wanted to leave Grove (I didn’t… I LOVED it there) but I wanted to have that experience in my resume for future job openings. I almost immediately developed a “Grass is greener” mentality in my mind.
At this time, Chris had been working on completing his alternative teaching certificate and was working on finalizing all of things that had to be done in order to be able to get a 1 year teaching certificate and interview for jobs. We had discussed in detail about moving to Texas to be closer to family and all my life and teaching career I had wanted to teach band in Texas. Again, I had the “Grass is greener” mentality about that whole situation. In March of 2011, Chris traveled down to Houston to go to Job Fairs and interviews for Math teaching positions. We and especially ME wanted to move to Texas so bad and at that time I really thought moving there would solve ALL my “Problems”. I didn’t have any problems actually but I thought moving to Texas and teaching band would really help set my career on the right path. I was 28 and I wasn’t getting any younger.  I would follow some of my teaching peers from OU on Facebook and look at their careers and be jealous of how far they have come since OU. I had a deep, deep desire to” move on” with my career… I didn’t even know how to do this or what it meant but I wanted it and moving to Houston was the answer in my head.
During the month of May Chris had been on several interviews in Houston and he and Natalie were away from home about 60% of the time. I knew them being gone this long would be okay in the long run though. On May 24th we got a call from the Aldine 9th Grade principal telling Chris he was interested in him and was going to send the memo over to the Aldine HR director to call him and offer the job. Chris and I both got really excited but knew that it was not a done deal. On Friday, May 27th at 9:00am I got a call from Chris saying he was offered the job at Aldine 9th as well as an additional job within Aldine ISD. I was supposed to be presenting an End of the Year Award at this time and was late. I hurried in to present the awards with tears in my eyes knowing my “Perfect” job was soon to be over. I didn’t say anything to anyone during these awards but the students, parents and my fellow teachers knew something was up because within minutes of completion of the awards ceremony, I had several people come and ask if I was ok! My dream I of teaching Band in Texas was about to come true and my family and I were moving to Texas.
That day came and went and I eventually told my fellow teachers and students about the move and said my goodbyes. The following month was crazy with trying to pack up our house in Shawnee and me traveling to and from Houston interviewing for jobs. During the month of June I had about 9 interviews for band director jobs at the middle school, junior high and high school level. I felt really good about the quantity of job interviews I was offered but the quality or lack thereof was not impressive and the 1.5 hour+ commute seemed impossible. During the late week of June I went on 2 elementary music teaching position interviews that were a little closer to home. I really didn’t want to go this route but it seemed despite the quantity of band director interviews, I was coming up short. July was approaching fast and I needed a job. On June 30th, I was offered my current Elementary Music Teaching position and I accepted.
During my previous 2 years at my current position, I have learned new ways of teaching general elementary music and I have even created my own grade level curriculum. However, the large district make-up and the outrageous number of students I teach have left me feeling un-easy and overall unhappy. Despite my thinking of “My life will be perfect when I move to Texas” my life did not become perfect and that feeling of I wanted more from my career got bigger and bigger and BIGGER!
I put my name out there in the Elementary Music world so if Chris and I decided to have another baby, I would not be crazy busy with Band things like sectionals and extra rehearsals and be able to spend time with the new baby. In June 2012 David Luke Davis entered the world and became part of our family and for that reason alone my life has become perfect with him in it! I was able to take 3 months off from teaching in the Fall of 2012 and return to work in November 2012. When I returned to work in November a lot had changed and a lot more time before and after school and all of the sudden I was working Band hours but still at an elementary music teaching position. I have a Master’s degree and have a vast knowledge of instrumental music and band directorship and I am unable to use it. When I wake up each morning all I can think about is “I should be somewhere else”. I am unhappy in my current position and there are times where I think the whole move to Texas was a wrong move and the only good thing to come of it was Luke. Of course I know this is not true because we were in “Dire Straits” financially in the later months of Chris’ unemployment and were literally months away from eviction I sure. Now we live in a 3400 sq ft home that is even better than I pictured in my head. Our little family is complete and I could not be happier in that realm of my life. Yet somehow I absolutely dread going to work and literally feel depressed in my career. There were many teachers at Grove that had to take depression and anxiety medicine and I always thought, “How bad could it be?”  Now I understand why they were taking medication and I honestly feel I should be put on some.
In all of my frustrations and depression of my job and I am thinking the same thoughts as I did at Grove in thinking that “The Grass is greener on the other side”. I could write another blog post about the craziness and demands of my job (Non-music related) but I feel like ANYTHING is better than my current situation. I still have the desire and longing to teach band but I almost feel as if my attitude being the same as before is going to get me into the same type of situation I am in now. I heard a saying once “Make sure the lawnmower works before you go over to the greener grass.” Sure the grass may be greener but what all does “Greener Grass” entail?
In nearly 8 years of teaching I have never EVER felt like I am in the wrong profession and I havent ever NOT liked going to work every day. In addition, I have always felt like I am making a difference SOMEHOW on the students’ lives. Almost every day this year I have felt as if I am just going to work to pay the bills. That passion for teaching and students has disappeared and I am for the first time ever depressed with my career (almost to the point of medication… I think).
As the job hunt season opens and I begin to look for a new job, I would appreciate any and all prayers. I know this blog was unique in the sense that I really just laid out my feelings and frustrations with my current situation and my hopes and dreams for the future. I did not know this time 2 years ago where I would be today. I certainly didn’t think I would be in an inner-city school teaching 40 kids at a time elementary music. But I also didn’t know I would have the world’s most adorable and handsome 9 month-old EVER! I am blessed and I need to count my blessings… name them one by one! Growing up and practicing my saxophone nightly I would play “God is in Control” and I would reflect on the words of this song and their meaning. All I can think of right now are the words to this song…
God is in Control
He believes that His children will not be forsaken
God is in Control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, We know
God is in Control.
In I must remember in ANY situation
God is GOOD… All the time!

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