As most of you know, I'm a substitute teacher. Although I have been doing this for 6 years now, it's not what I want to do with my life. I desperately want my own classroom, but the teaching jobs in Ontario are slim to none right now, which makes it very difficult to find even a long term contract, let alone a permanent position.
My amazing news, you ask? Friday afternoon, while I was grocery shopping, I got the call I was waiting for all summer. I was offered a long term contract, in a grade 4 and 5 split class. I was caught by surprise, and didn't quite understand what they were offering me, so I had to ask her to repeat herself. This late in the summer, I thought for sure all the positions had already been assigned! I was literally jumping up and down in the grocery store as I hurried to call my best friend (more about her later) to tell her the good news. My mind started spinning with everything that I had to do to get ready for this position. I only had 5 days to do it!
It was the longest weekend of my life. We had made plans to go to camp with some friends that we hadn't seen in years and it was very hard for me to take off my teacher hat and not stress over everything that I had to do to get ready for the first day back (September 3).
On Monday morning, I made the 1.5 hr drive to my new school and met with the principal. I spent the entire afternoon in the classroom, cleaning and organizing all the resources. I hadn't brought anything to set up the classroom yet, but planned on going shopping for all of that on Tuesday. Five hours of sweat and dust later, I was satisfied and started on the drive home, excited about setting up "my" classroom and planning for the first week. On my drive home, I got a phone call on my cell phone from the school board and my heart just sank. I had this feeling that something was wrong.
Sure enough. They made a mistake. The government of Ontario has recently implemented new regulations for fair hiring practices. When it comes to a long term contract, teachers are hired based on seniority. Human resources accidentally gave me the position when someone who is higher up in seniority had also applied and they had to offer it to her. I was devastated.
Summer is always the WORST time of the year for me. It's when I feel the most pressure and when I get the most discouraged when I still don't have a position come September. This year, I tried not to let it stress me out too much. In April, I had actually decided that if I don't get at least a long term contract this school year, I was going to pursue another career. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I mean, how much longer can I take the frustration of always being called at the last minute? Of not knowing where I'll be each day? Of making stupid mistakes because I'm trying to remember 12 different school schedules? Of being treated as less important by staff because I'm "only a substitute teacher"? Of being tested to the extreme on a daily basis by students who think they can get away with murder because I'm not their regular classroom teacher? Of being taken advantage of and given the worst classes and assignments just because I can handle it? Enough is enough. At least that's how I've been feeling.
I understand completely how this happened, and I don't blame anyone for the mistake. That's exactly what it is. A mistake. We are only human, even the people who work in the human resources department of our school boards. I have to be grateful that I didn't spend any money or any more time decorating the classroom. I've heard stories of teachers setting up and being completely ready for the first day, only to get "bumped" out of the job at the very last minute. I have to hope that something even better will come out of this.
So what do I do now? Now that school starts in a few days and I still don't have a position? Now that I've told myself that I'll take a leave of absence for a year and move on to a more stable, secure job?
I sit by the phone and wait for the phone calls to come in for daily subbing jobs. For the seventh year in a row. I breathe in and out, tell myself that I'm a great teacher and that this isn't personal. I put on a happy face and walk into the next school, the next classroom and pretend that I love being a substitute teacher. I look at the brighter sides of things and am grateful that I can "teach" almost every day in the school year, even if it is as a sub teacher.
Why? Because teaching is what I'm meant to do and I can't picture myself doing anything else.
Waiting for my "forever classroom" is all I can do.