On Monday I started my first ever non-teaching job as a professional. For the last five years, I have been an elementary school teacher. I taught ESL for the first four of those years and 2nd grade this previous year. I started to feel the itch for a change about a year and a half ago, but I wasn’t sure in what direction to look for another job. Being a teacher has been such an important part of my identity for a long time, and there were lots of things I loved about it. I loved that moment during a lesson when you know that it’s working, that your kids are really getting it. I loved seeing students make growth from the beginning of the year to the end. I didn’t love having to be at work at the crack of dawn and staying late for meetings. I didn’t love having no independence or freedom of choice about my work day. I didn’t love all the work I had to do at night and on the weekends. But it wasn’t enough for me to pull the plug and look for something else.
Soon after my husband and I had our son Jonah in December, I knew that I was done with teaching. I don’t know why having him made the decision so clear for me, but it did. I didn’t want to stay home full time; I wanted to work–just not as a teacher. I started idly looking for other jobs during my maternity leave, but as I was thinking about what else I could do I found myself at a loss. I quickly realized that other than administrative/central office jobs, there are not a ton of opportunities for teachers looking to get out of the classroom but stay in an education-related field, even if you have a master’s degree.
As I was job searching, I remembered the website of a literacy nonprofit here in town that I had come across a while ago. When I first heard of Reading Connections, I thought at the time that if I ever wanted to get out of the classroom they would be a great group to work for. On a long shot I emailed the director my resume and introduced myself. A couple interviews and a few months later, I am now Reading Connections’ new Family Literacy Manager. I am responsible for all programs our agency is involved with that focus on young children and their parents. My main program is the Family Literacy program, which is a combination of literacy instruction, parenting skills and life skills for parents with low literacy levels and their children. Here is the view from my new office:
I am definitely still getting my feet wet, and I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but so far I am really enjoying my new job. While not without its challenges (such as finding my car in the parking deck), I love the autonomy to choose what I’m going to work on at what time, the ability to make my own schedule, and just in general feeling like I’m finally being treated like a professional.