i had a job interview last week… for next school year.
it’s a job i really want but i’m still unsure whether i’ll get it or not. actually, the position itself doesn’t really matter in the context of this experience.
somewhere in between talking about my experiences and wanting to change the world, one of the interviewers asked,
you have all these ambitions for schools and education! i’m curious… what is your ten-year plan? where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
i answered the previous questions quickly, automatic. but at this one i stopped.
ten years? i pictured myself at 40.
honestly? i started. i’m just hoping to find a job for next year. i may end up working at a coffee house and writing my memoir… i have about twenty pages so far.
the two strangers sitting across from me via google hangout laughed.
no, i’m serious. i confessed. asking about my one year plan is probably a more manageable question for me right now.
the next day, i told this story to my colleagues before school started.
you know what you’re supposed to say to that question, right? amy asked, sounding concerned.
i did know the right answer, but i wasn’t going to lie. five years ago i probably would have said something about starting my own school or working for an educational consulting firm or still being a passionate teacher.
but i don’t see those things right now. at least not clearly.
so, i’m moving to a new country. which basically means i will re-start my career. teaching is probably never something you completely re-start, but i’m leaving my organization, my contacts and the context of my work that i’ve existed in for eight years. i’m starting over. i have no idea what opportunities are available for me in a country where i don’t speak the language or even have a basic understanding of their culture or educational system.
and i’m 30. i am recently married and we’ve talked about starting a family. maybe not soon, but given my age, soonish. it’s complicated.
this question of a ten-year plan started me thinking about my career. in my early twenties i was completely career driven, though i realized quickly that the professional ladder of an educator has only a few rungs: teacher, principal/dean, curriculum director, consultant, politician. that’s about it. as i look back now, i’ll admit that i was primarily driven by the prospects of being something.
my classroom back in 2007. note the teaching tolerance free poster sets and my optimistic grin.
i vividly remember my first job fair in san diego, the spring before i moved officially. as i roamed from school to school in my new pinstriped pantsuit (which i proudly still own), all i could think about was being on the other side of the interview table. i wanted to be the one who hired, who made decisions, the one who made other people nervous. ever since then, i’ve strived to become more, to constantly think about my career. it’s not that being a teacher isn’t enough… but somewhere in my mind, i’ve always been determined to move up, to push myself. sometimes too hard and sometimes unfairly. i would stay at school until 9:00pm grading papers, trying to become the best teacher i could be, for my students and for me.
and now, i have no plan.
myself at twenty would have had a ten-year plan. maybe fifteen. she was ambitious and motivated and ready.
to be clear, i have been completely willing to give up my current teaching position in a dream school and move across the world to be with my husband. i’ll own that. but just because i made the decision doesn’t mean i can’t be confused about where that leaves me professionally.
subconsciously, i think i was questioning how much i should invest in a new career (in a new country) when i am planning on having a family. like, what’s the point? i’ve seen so many women leave their jobs to have children and just never return in the same way.
do you think your life will just stop when you have children? kjartan asked as he listened to me ramble about careers and pregnancy and starting over.
maybe i do.
maybe that’s the problem because i’ve come to realize that i still care very deeply about how i spend my time and teaching has become more than just a stepping stone to a higher paycheck or more prestige at a high school reunion. i think all along, i started teaching for students, for impact and for the type of social change that i still believe education is capable of achieving.
whether i get this job or not, i have decided that i’m not done.
so, that’s my new answer to the ‘ten-year’ question.
where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
not done. just, not done.