This job transition has been years in the making. Starting from the first fellowship application rejects to short postdocs with limited funding to teaching opportunities that required lots of negotiating every 2 months with insanely low pay (my worst was $500 per month for a 10-week course) and no job security or benefits. Many lecturers burn out after 2 years of this life; I managed to hang on for 8 years, fighting to work beside others who have similar goals and insights. The rewards have been there, but the costs for those who don't have a safety net (or a trust fund) have been far greater than most realize, driving a search for something that didn't require me breaking myself and sacrificing my family on a daily basis.
On Friday, I was offered a position. One that I'm incredibly excited about. I'm waiting to see the formal offer before the final decision can be made (hence why I'm still actively finalizing another application process), but the preliminary number I was given sent me into a laughing fit as it's more money than I've ever seen. That number bumps my family out of living close to the poverty line, allowing us to live the lifestyle many in our circle have been enjoying for some years now. And that's just the beginning, with the possibility for advancement and training at allows to grow, applying my skill set in ways that benefit a much broader audience.
With the excitement in this has come looking back on the road to here. And admitting openly, despite what others want to hear, that it's been a rough one.
We have an education crisis in this nation. Teachers and educators are minimized socially and financially, leading to high levels of burn out and turn over. And though we talk about students suffering and worrying about the next generation, the focus has not been on fostering learning and growing our leaders and innovators, but instead on maximizing tax cuts, paying administrators and providing luxuries for student housing in order to justify inflating tuition. The sacrifice has been that those in the classroom and those supporting the classroom aren't given the support they need to do the work so many acknowledge is needed.
It's dire at the PreK-12 level; it's even worse at the higher education level, where many instructors and lecturers are not unionized and treated as disposable.
This week will involve a lot of work. In addition to reaching out to everyone who has helped me in recent months, offering advice and contacts, and thanking them for their help, I also will be contacting a local extension program and informing them I won't be running the course they offered me for the summer. $4000 paid after the course is completed (7-week evening course that meets 4 hours twice a week) combined with 30 pages for application materials is not sustainable and though I love being in the classroom, the truth is the administrations across this country need to decide that the scramble to find anyone qualified to teach these courses requires changing the education model. That their instructors drawing unemployment benefits and/or receiving food stamps while teaching so the university can meet its mission statement needs to be a thing of the past.
And my hope is that this also is the start of a new chapter, allowing me the security and support I need to be a better teacher. Both in this position and beyond.