Saturday, June 6, 2009

Big News...for me anyway

After much, much thinking, pondering, wondering, more thinking, t-charts, pro/con discussions, and more back n'forth, I have decided to leave teaching.

Give me a moment while I catch my breath here. You see, teaching runs through my veins. I live it. I breathe it. I think about it, a lot. I dream about it. I love it. Love it I tell you. I spend hours and hours planning, researching, making sure every single lesson matters and builds on the previous lesson. I know why I teach every single thing I teach - every lesson gets me to an end...something important...gets my kids to think and reach and stretch out of their comfort zone. My favorite part of teaching is watching my kids grow as thinkers and writers and readers and human beings all because of what goes on my classroom. It has got to be up there with every other rush and high on the planet. I swear it.

So why am I leaving it? Good question. Back to the thinking, discussions, etc...

Two years ago I met an educational coach. She came into my classroom and evaluated me. The results were for me to see - no one else saw. Then, she came back again and again and coached me into deepening my teaching; she coached me to push my thinking way beyond where it had ever been pushed before...which in turn pushed my students' thinking. It revolutionized my teaching practices.

Like blew them wide open.

I started questioning her on the job of being an educational coach. I badgered her, and she kindly answered every single one of my questions. My ambitions simmered on a low heat, the aroma filling my head with a sweet, sweet scent. Could I be an educational coach? Could I? Could I train teachers to think about HOW they teach? Could I push teachers thinking? Could I?

Turns out I could. I accepted a position as a National Literacy and Instructional Coach with this company and my pot of excitement has splattered all over the kitchen!!! I gave my official resignation (with a broken heart) last week and broke the news to my current 6th graders on Friday (the looks on their precious faces will never be forgotten...heartbreaking).

One of my little girls had given me a hand made journal on Friday and she wrote on the first page:

Thank you for an AWESOME year. You have changed my life like CRAZY. You are the BEST teacher ever. Thanks again. You mean everything to me.

She was one of the little girls whose face will haunt me.

It was so hard to tell them. So hard. One of my boys said, "Awwww, now we can't come back and see you next year as 7th graders." I told them I was giving them my email so they could keep in touch with me for forever, if they wanted to. They all said it wasn't the same. I agree.

However, in spite of the emotional roller coaster, one cool part about taking this new job is, my dear and true friend and 6th grade teaching colleague also took a job with this same company, so I won't be treading into this uncharted water alone. I'll have a familiar and dear-hearted friend to take the first dip with. She is a BRILLIANT teacher and incredible thinker.

I can't believe I did it. I can't believe I'm doing it. I can't wait to get into the whole new thing of it all. I love change. I embrace change and hug it and even pat its back affectionately. I can NOT WAIT for this new chapter of my life to start.

It certainly is helping to shine the light onto something exciting as I wait, oh-so-patiently, for my writing career to explode. That whole deal is a mind blower. I'm not sure how much more I can do. I've queried. I've had a phone conversation with a HUGE agent, only to be pushed into some bizarre holding pattern for an entire year - no contact - no responses - no nothing. Did I mention she is a HUGE agent?

I've queried a whole, whole, whole lot more. I've polished. I've polished my query to a, 'oooh-I-need-my-sunglasses-it's-so-shiny-status'.

I've polished my novel into magnificence *she says with as much humility as possible* (EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY READER LOVES this book, I swear to heaven above, and I wouldn't swear to heaven unless it was true, because I am a God fearing woman. But, I'm serious about this.) I just can't seem to get a stinkin' agent to love it. I've submitted partials...fulls, more partials, more fulls. I've conferenced. I've attended National writing conferences, regional writing conferences, local writing conferences. I've feedbacked. I've re-written. I've written.

The whole deal kinda blows. And I mean that with as much blowi'ness as possible. It is so frustrating, so sucky, so frustratingly sucky.

I'm not giving up. No way. Never.

But, the new job thingie is certainly helping to stop the Friday night boo-hooie sessions from sucking the fun out of every free minute I have. I'll be real honest, it is so hard to read of fellow writers' successes and agent-landings and NYT Bestseller listings, and book tours, and book signings, and school visits, and movie deals, and...ahhhhhh...you see? Boo hoo for me.

New job = new focus for me. New. New. New. I like new.