She found comfort in the nuances between success and failure, between a goal finished, accomplished, and a goal adjusted. —Dave Eggers, from Up the Mountain, Coming Down Slowly
I like to think I don’t fail at much. I’m skilled at confident self-delusion. But even the best laid plans can crumble. I’m sure no one, not even myself, saw this failure coming. In 30 years, I’ve never failed a class. I’ve probably only failed a test or two. I have a master’s. I have a company in another country. I’m passionate, committed, creative and pretty damn awesome. Nevertheless, yours truly didn’t pass teachnola’s summer teaching certification program. I was not recommended into the classroom for the fall. I lost my teaching job before I even worked a day. What a strange experience. Yes, it was a .11 point difference. No, I wasn’t allowed to contest.
C’est la vie. Det är som det är.
When I put on my honesty glasses, I see my failures. Hell, even back to my wobbly years in early elementary school, my parents had me repeatedly tested for the gifted program — refusing to acknowledge I didn’t make the cut. What was it parentals, twice? Thrice? I wouldn’t be where I am today if they hadn’t kept pushing. I have failed at being a music journalist, getting a Fulbright grant, learning to play piano, swimming above water (It’s a sad sight, folks.), writing a novel, driving a standard, watching that damn bridge in London, seeing puffins and so much more.
I have to say, I fail pretty damn hard. But I don’t fall. I am not abandoning my plan to teach. I honestly believe I will be a great, effective teacher. Teachnola even said as much when they dumped me. How did it feel to help students improve their crazy, second grade Common Core math skills? Chilling beyond my imagination. Did I try my damndest? Absolutely. From 6 a.m. to midnight every weekday and then some for four weeks, I worked like a beast. Was I the right fit for their intense, five-week training program? Guess not. Maybe it was my total lack of experience with children; the summer school setting with kids who weren’t thrilled to be there; my refusal to give students candy; or being sick the entire time. I was also probably affected by the major life change of moving you know, everything, from another country to New Orleans, Swedish Karl included. No big deal. Excuses? Nope. Realities? Yes. I won’t get into my personal philosophy about the program, but if you’re a random internet-er considering teachnola, feel free to reach out in the comments and I’ll be in touch.
When you’re the adult captain of your ship, you decide where to sail and when to abandon all hope. Right now, the goal is adjusted. I realize in retrospect it’s better for me to pursue a more traditional route to teaching through a master’s degree. At some point I may do that. But I don’t want that right now. For Karl’s visa we literally cannot have that right now. So that’s where I stand — on the job hunt, hoping for something tied to education, but not 100% teaching itself. I will likely amp up my volunteering, too, as I really enjoyed working with kids. There should be good news on the job front very soon. Fingers crossed. Thumbs held.
I know my strengths and where I want to go. Time to make a new map.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the perks of being human. We’re making our home, enjoying the spoils of our neighborhood, sleeping in, loving this damn city every minute and planning hard for Culture Clash Bash 2015.
You see in New Orleans, you don’t make lemonade from life’s lemons. You slush that shit up, toss in some vodka and revel in the daiquirified fruits of your labor.
Skål indeed. Photos and things next time. Just wanted to update the chaos.