I’ve been feeling very anxious the last couple of weeks.
It’s no surprise really, given the uncertainty about my job next year. I won’t find out whether my counseling position may be funded until later this year, although even if it is (which it doesn’t seem very likely) it will likely only be for a half-time position. Although a half-time counseling position is still much more palatable to me than a full-time teaching position; going back into the classroom is not where my heart is and feels like a step backwards in my educational career.
I would consider attempting to find another counseling position in another school district except that 1) counselors in my current district are considered administration and hence get paid more (although teachers are paid more here than in other districts as well!), 2) I love the school that I’m at, 3) given the change in funding from the state, there are probably thousands of unemployed counselors currently looking for a new counseling gig, 4) I’m tired of working for The Man (and would like the opportunity to work for myself).
Unfortunately my teaching credential expires in June 2010. California has a two-tiered teaching credential system so when you are first credentialed it is with a Preliminary Credential good for five years. Within that five years you have to take more classes and teach for at least two full years, at which point you can apply for the next level (Professional Clear Credential). General Education teachers are able to “clear” their credential by working through a program most school districts offer, free of charge and usually during their normal work days. Unfortunately Special Education teachers don’t have that option and must “clear” their credentials by taking university classes, which have to be paid for by the teahcer and attended in the evening or in summer (or both!).
I was actually credentialed as a counselor before I became credentialed as a teacher because I felt I was missing some essential knowledge and experience by not having been in the classroom. Because my goal has always been to be a counselor (and teaching was mostly to enrich my experience as a counselor), I put off “clearing” my credential.
It’s not too late for me to “clear” my credential, however I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to expend the time, energy, and money for something I don’t have a passion to do.
Further complicating matters is No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its definition of a “highly qualified” teacher. Most Special Education teacher have a multiple subjects credential, meaning they had to pass a competency exam in English, Social Science, Math, and Science (whereas General Education teachers usually have a major in their teaching area and have passed a competency exam in that area).
When I became credentialed, I was deemed to be “highly qualified” to be a Special Education teacher. But now NCLB requires that Special Education teachers have a major, 20 semester units, a passing score in a single-subject competency exam or a 72-hour course provided by the County of Education IN EACH AREA they support.
As the only SpEd teacher at our school, that would mean I would have to be “highly qualified” in English, Math, Science, and Social Science! My undergraduate degree would fulfill the Social Science requirement and I’ve passed the Math competency, so I would have to take the 72-hour prep course in English and Science to become “highly qualified” in those areas.
Doesn’t sound too bad, except that I would also have to work on “clearing” my credential at the same time. And manage a household. And raise a child. And all for something my heart really isn’t into.
So I’ve been fantasizing about Plan B. If I didn’t have any constraints (mostly financial), I see myself opening a café/coffee shop/craft center. My idea is to combine several of my passions into one business venture. Imagine a place you can go that allows you to use crafting tools (sewing machines, scrapbooking tools, screen printing equipment, etc.) for your favorite hobby while enjoying a cup of tea or gnoshing on a sandwich. A place where you can take classes on a craft you’ve been dying to try without investing in all the equipment. A place where you and your friends can create your next masterpiece while sharing a freshly-prepared meal. A place where you can take your kids and their friends to celebrate their birthday with a meal, a cake, and a craft lesson.
Unfortunately, at this point at least, it’s all fantasy. Financial constraints won’t allow even a simple version of my fantasy.
In the meantime, I’m working on Plan C, which I’ll share more about later since this has quickly turned into a novel!
In the meantime, please share your thoughts about my idea! Am I crazy for needing to do my own thing? Is this a place you would like to frequent? If not, what would make it more appealing?