Thursday morning started out fairly routine. I took the kids to daycare, got to work a bit early, made a few photocopies, plotted out a basic plan for the day (one that included extensive use of K’nex gear sets for my grade 4 Science unit). Everything was moving along just tickety-boo when the supply teacher came in.
“Am I in for you today, Nick?”
“Um, I don’t know. Are you?” As I said it, a niggling memory surfaced, a half day that had been booked without my knowledge that I only noticed the week earlier when I was booking a sick day for myself.
“I think I am.”
“Huh. I guess I’d better find out why. Back in a sec.”
In the office, my boss was able to dig up that, yes, I was supposed to be booked off this morning, but, no, no one had told me about it, and also that I was supposed to be in Stoney Creek (about 10 minutes away) at a conference centre. Turns out that when I volunteered to do some Math professional development no one bothered to tell me when or where it was.
A few frantic plans later I was in my car and headed out to learn more about numbers.
The first sign that something was amiss was the big sign for the City of Hamilton Food Fundraising workshop up in the entrance. Math didn’t seem well-represented. When I did finally find an employee in the otherwise deserted building, he assured me that the school board absolutely was not booked for that morning.
I called the school again and asked our secretary to confirm the location with my principal.
“Uh oh,” she said to me. “She’s wincing. You need to be in Ancaster. She must have read it wrong.”
“Okay. When does it start?”
“In about four minutes.”
So back in the car and back on the road, now headed across the city to a resource centre roughly 800 metres from my house. There was no way to gracefully enter, as late as I was, so I just picked the quietest looking door, ducked my head, and plowed on in to a PD session in full swing.
Turns out that anonymity was not on my side either. In a fairly random pull from 100+ schools, I spotted at least seven people I had worked with scattered through the room. I had time to reflect later on how that did not seem to be the case with anyone else at my table, teachers younger, my age, and older. I’ve been with the board now for three-and-a-half years, and I’ve been very lucky in that I have had LTO after LTO without so much as a day in between. My Last two jobs have been full year. I have always had a decent idea of where I’m going before my current job has ended. I’m not complaining.
But when I realized how many different schools all those familiar faces represented, I was a bit bummed. I felt like my morning of moving from place to place was an apt analogy for the current stage of my career, a constant shift from place to place, always with that feeling of not being able to relax at one spot for so much as a moment because it will just be taken away from me.
I had it once (and I know I’ve written and whined about this before, but please indulge me for a moment of self-pity). I was at my first school for four years, and I naively thought that I would stay much longer than that even. But some truly appalling things were happening to the staff there, and I couldn’t in good conscience remain once the worst of it had come to light. It was for the best; the work environment had become pretty toxic and dysfunctional and it looked in no way to be improving. (I’ve since heard that the management has changed and I hope that those few people that stayed on have things a lot better now.)
So here I am, paying my dues, waiting for the chance to get a permanent teaching job, and I feel like such a lost kid some days that I just want to cry. I’m so tired of not being able to settle in one place and make friends that I can keep and see year after year. I’m sick of learning new routines and not seeing my students coming back every fall. I miss having a home.
I know it will happen eventually. I know that. I get it. But it hasn’t happened yet and I’m sick as hell of waiting.