Tag Archives: Job

LeftRightLeftRight

When I was in college, I went to a Coldplay concert with a group of friends. I can still feel the electricity of that night, and I still get chills when I hear certain songs. At the end of the night, after releasing a cloud of butterflies, Coldplay passed out CDs with the title LeftRightLeftRight. I didn’t understand the title at the time; after all, the album was a recording of one evening on the Viva La Vida Tour, which is what I had just paid to see. Over the past week, however, I started to wonder if the title could be a nod to creativity, and to the importance of stepping out of the boxes in which we put ourselves, in order to look for something more.

I have to give my friend Mary credit for providing the impetus for me to explore creativity this week. I don’t consider myself a creative personal at all. I’ve always wanted to be, but I am (regrettably) a perfectionist in much of what I do. In terms of the IB Learner Profile, I am not much of a risk taker. Call it a personality flaw.

ib-learner-profile-diagram
Source: http://blogs.osc-ib.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/IB-Learner-profile-diagram.jpg

School on the brain at all times, right?

Anyway, I reached out to Mary and another friend, Ally, earlier this week to share with them how alone and afraid I’ve been feeling. I’ve written about it before – the difficulty of finding a new job, the challenges of moving, and just trying to do as much as I can before I leave here. I’ve been feeling quite lost in the choices that I’ve made and continue to make, both in terms of employment and my personal life. Like many women in doubt, especially across oceans, I reached out to my girlfriends. I’ve known Ally since the first day of high school, which is still one of the most frightening experiences I’ve had. I went from a K-8 school of 120 kids in one town to a high school with 1,000 kids in another town. A couple weeks late, I met Mary and she introduced me to rest of the people who became my core group for the duration of my high school career. The rest, as they say, is history.

In their remarkably quick replies to a very long, rambling, I-am-crying-out-for-help-please-help-me email, both women were thoughtful, caring, supportive, and compassionate in everything they wrote and in the subsequent actions that they took. It is no surprise that I was sleeping better towards the end of this week than I have in the past month.

In the course of her response, Mary shared an interesting activity that she came across, presumably online. To paraphrase, Mary told me to ask myself an open-ended question and write the answer with my dominant hand and then my other hand. She had used ,”What animal best describes me?” in her example (quite possibly from this blog) and the two animals that she came up with beautifully capture two very different aspects of her personality. Seeing this, I gave it a try with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My dominant hand told me teacher, which I expected. As I picked up the pen in my other hand, I felt a huge smile on my face because I knew exactly what I was going to write. In the awkward letters of one who is not ambidextrous but trying to be, the word writer appeared.

And I knew it would.

The second my pen left my dominant hand, which is really the only place it ever spends any time (and quite a lot of time as I work on grading the 51 grade nine essays I got on Wednesday), I literally felt a different part of my brain activate. As a teacher of psychology, I was not entirely that this happened but I was fascinated. I found this interview with a researcher also mentioned in this article to simply explain how to activate cognitive processing in a different hemisphere than normal. Have a quick read if you’re interested, or ask the different hemispheres of your brain a question.

So I wonder if that’s what Coldplay meant with that album title. I wonder if they were reflecting on their own creativity or encouraging others to literally try another hand.

I generally have a lot of questions and, “Now what?” is a question that I ask myself every time I send out another cover letter or resume or file another “thank you for your submission” email. It’s a question I ask myself whenever I read position descriptions for jobs I should be qualified for when, in the back of my mind, I know I’m not who schools want (to be explored in another blog post at a later date). It’s something I wonder when people ask me if I’m excited to move to NYC or if I’m sorry to leave Singapore.

The difficulty is that I am not patient, I am not comfortable with uncertainty, and I am trying very hard to be both. My dominant hand says “keep trying” and I am afraid to ask my other hand.

Please Hire Me.

It’s time I made this public: I’m moving again.

Yup, again. I love Singapore and I love my school. I love my friends here and I love the travel I’ve been doing throughout my time in Southeast Asia. More importantly, I love my department and I love the curriculum we’re developing. I am actually excited to develop this curriculum, which is something I never thought I’d say. We’ve made the decision (and been given permission) to completely redesign the MYP Individuals and Societies courses at school and we’re doing it through a lens of sustainable development with a focus on scientifically and morally based problem solving. And it’s really going to happen, which is the coolest part. I so wish I could be here to teach the ninth and tenth grade iterations of this curriculum next year. That would be such a wonderful experience, and I am so excited for all of my colleagues and for all of the students who are going to part of it. I would love to join them.

But I also love a really wonderful man and he’s in New York City. Because of his job, Mitch is likely to be in New York City for a very long time. Our rough estimate is a decade at the minimum before we can even entertain the thought of going elsewhere. For better or for worse, going through the rest of my life without Mitch isn’t an option I’m willing to consider, awesome curriculum or not.

So it’s time to go back.

I made this decision a few months ago and took the necessary HR steps back in December. Most of my colleagues know that I’m leaving, but I haven’t said anything to my students. I have a lot of unfinished business as far as they’re concerned (this curriculum, only developing the first of two years of DP Psych) and I’m not entirely comfortable letting go. I have no doubt that whoever takes my place will be more than qualified. I have no doubt that my very capable colleagues will do brilliant work with the curriculum and really change what we’re teaching and how we’re doing it. And there’s really no reason I can’t continue that reevaluation in my own classroom, wherever it happens to be.

I’ve been looking for jobs for over a month, which I know is not a very long time. I’ve applied to a lot of wonderful schools and even more less wonderful schools. I’m waiting to hear about my application to the NYC public school system. I’m waiting to hear from nearly everywhere I’ve applied. There’s only been one flat-out “no”, but I honestly prefer that to silence. It’s a competitive market, so I’m trying not to be too picky. I’m also trying to find a school that will let me teach and let me do it well.

One day, I’ll find myself back in a progressive school in which I’m allowed to teach what should be taught, not what has always been taught. That’s been the best part about teaching the MYP this year, and it’s only going to get better. We have so much freedom to do what’s right as long as we’re working towards the IB aims of responsible action and creating a peaceful world. And who doesn’t want to do that?

At the moment, I’m not ready for my time in Singapore or overseas to be over. I never really planned on reaching that point, but I haven’t planned on a lot of things. So here’s to the next five months – to making them count.

Changes

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

We decided to come to Malaysia for my teaching job and we planned that Mitch would find a job working in finance in KL.

We were wrong.

People warned us that Mitch would have trouble getting a company to sponsor a visa for him. All over the world, non-citizens need to prove that they have something special to offer for a job that a citizen cannot. For me, that’s easy. I’m in an international school that needs Western teachers; Malaysians aren’t Western so I offer something they don’t. Since Mitch isn’t a CEO and doesn’t have decades of experience, companies are reluctant to hire him because it is very possible that Immigration will deny him a work visa. We knew this coming to Malaysia but we hoped that meeting expats who work in KL would point him in the right direction.

Fast forward two months: As of Tuesday morning, Mitch is in Singapore indefinitely trying the job search all over again. There are definitely more opportunities there in the financial sector and the visa laws are different, so hopefully productive employment will come along. Wish us luck!