Tag Archives: Paraprofessional

No More School! No More Work!

Or should I say, “no more work for which I shall get paid!”  I will still be doing regular Mom duties (chef, chauffeur, psychologist, play therapist, librarian, janitor, mechanic, tour guide, entertainment coordinator, nutritionist, and matriarch, of course).  But for the summer I am done being an education professional.  It feels bittersweet.

A peacock at the zoo.  Picture taken by my student.

A peacock at the zoo. Picture taken by my student during the field trip.

Today I was definitely ready for summer vacation.  Hell, I was ready for two months ago, shortly after I started working full time.  I got sick, really sick, and haven’t recovered.  So for me, a long rest — or what I imagine could be a long rest — might put me back on my feet for the next school year.  Just making it day to day seemed impossible, and with less than one month of school remaining, I managed to catch a nasty stomach flu and then develop bronchitis, which persists even as I type.  Today as I helped the children pack their backpacks one last time, I felt a mix of relief and sadness.  I desperately need to rest and regain my strength, but I will miss not seeing “my kids” every day.

The best possible consolation came as the class filed out the door.  My student, the one I had been hired to work with, turned and hugged me fiercely and said “Thanks Mrs. Van Delist!  I love you!”

Even if I never go back to work at the school, I can take that memory with me forever and be satisfied that I did my best job there.

— G

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Building The Resume

Chairs

I haven’t been writing much; it has been kind of a rough week.  The kids went back to school, which meant I had to go back to work.  Since the temperature has been too frigid for outdoor recess, the students at the school where I work have been acting the way I imagine caged rats might: nervous, cranky, a bit manic.  On my first day back at work I managed to immediately catch a cold and develop a whopping migraine, which is fantastic to experience amid the screams and squeals of hundreds of disgruntled children.

Not everything has been all bad this week.  Before Christmas vacation I was offered a promotion at the school.  Until then I had been working as a lunchroom/playground aide (I know, fancy title).  The school needed someone to spend time in one of the classrooms as a paraprofessional (the politically correct, more difficult to pronounce term for teaching assistant).  I was flattered to be considered a good fit for working with children in a tutoring capacity.  And the children do love me, so that helps.  On my first day as a “para” I was informed that soon I could (if I wanted) transition into just working in the classroom, with the same hours and better pay.  Um, count me in!  For now I get to do both jobs, and my foot is in the door for a potential long-term career in education.  If I can handle it.

The thought of giving up my playground/lunchroom duties did cause some consternation for me.  Being a playground/lunchroom aide allows me to interact with so many incredible little people, but my new supervisor reminded me that my promotion is a resume builder.  It is certainly my prerogative to remain in my current position, but if I am serious about advancing my career, I need to be open to changes.  Building my resume has been a major goal.  Before coming to the school, I hadn’t added anything new in ten years, and there were still jobs listed from my high school days!  Not terribly impressive, I’m afraid…Now I have been gainfully employed for nearly eighteen months, which is good, but I am delighted to be taking another step up the professional ladder.  It feels wonderful to be actively engaged in educational services, to contribute to my family’s income, and also to finally be building a base for a future careers.  I never have had that!

It has also been a long time since I’ve had a truly fulfilling job.  I’m sure that working with children is part of the secret.  Hugs, funny conversations, special moments… it’s all priceless.  Oh, there are still days when the little monsters leave me wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed with the T.V. remote and a pan of brownies.  Most days, however, I have a marvelous time working with the students and I am exuberant to tell my husband about my adventures.  I have learned that taking care of other parents’ children requires an abundant amount of energy.  Long before I clock in at the school my day begins with children.   I watch a neighbor boy in the morning and take him to school with my daughters.  After school I bring home a trio of vivacious youngsters along with my own, and listen to their lively conversations until their parents pick them up in the late afternoon.  I can now add ‘Nanny’ to my resume.  I’m really just doing my neighbors a favor so they can achieve their work and school goals.  Their children are very well-behaved and full of the vibrancy of young life.  It is nice to have a house teeming with children.  It is also nice to have quiet moments when I can rest and not be anything for anyone.  Not Mom, not Miss V, not “Hey, Lady“!  When I calculate the amount of time actually spent without children around, I don’t really get much of a break!

I was getting a little burned out right before Christmas.  Too many kids with attitudes, too much stress floating around the school.  I started considering looking for a different job, weighing the pros and cons of making a transition with my mediocre resume in the highly competitive job market.  Getting the promotion made me reevaluate where I stood at the school.  I have a good thing right at my fingertips; I just need to see it through.  I might never find a job that I love as much as my work with the students, and I would most certainly regret giving up a surefire path to a potential long-term career.  After being accustomed to so many children floating in and out of my life, I don’t think I would want things to change anyway.  I wouldn’t want to go work in an office with big boring adults after getting to be around children all day.  Children are much more interesting!

—G

 

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