Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Career Conundrum, Spoiled for Choice

Jean de la Fontaine wrote “En tout chose il faut considerer la fin” [In all matters one must consider the end]. After abandoning my goals, and dare I say “dreams”, of pursuing my Teaching career some four years ago to become a Correctional Officer, I find myself with an offer from the local school board in my hand. Had an opportunity such as this been offered to me back then, there would be nothing to give up and I would have jumped at the opportunity. When I set out into the teaching world, I aspired to help kids who grew up in the inner city as I did, to amount to more than their surroundings had to offer. I did teach adults from this demographic for a little over a year before teaching maximum security inmates at the local correctional facility. One thing lead to another there and I found myself make the shift from Teacher to Correctional Officer.

The offer is to teach at a K-12 school for students who have been expelled from every other possible programme and school in the area – this is basically their last chance. The Principal seems like someone who knows what’s what in that she’s not idealistic, stating most of the students that they have will one day end up at the maximum security facility that I presently work. There are problems with drugs, violence (including staff assaults), abuse and every other horror story that you might imagine. It sounds like the chaos I’ve been looking for!

So, what’s holding me back? I firstly want to see the facility and meet some of the staff to see if they are a fit as working in such an environment depends so much on teamwork. Money wise, I reckon that it will be comparable to my current salary. The hours will certainly beat shift work too!

…No, the only two major concerns I have are (1) job security and (2) the burn-out factor. Let’s not kid ourselves, there is plenty of job security where I am presently employed, and, having a wife and daughter who are dependent on that paycheque leaves me with some hefty responsibilities. School Boards can be fickle. Before being made “permanent” there could be funding cuts or whatever, causing me to be made redundant.

As for the second point, where I presently work there are serious incidents and stressors, that goes without saying. However, to be on the front lines with some 15 out of control youths, in addition to all the horrors of drug addiction, suicide, sexual molestation, etc., one must maintain some sense of detachment – this is a sense of detachment for which I don’t know if I have a stomach for.

Finally, getting older doesn’t help. It’s hard to start off as the new kid on the block at 37. I’m comfortable where I’m at the prison, and like many of my colleagues. There is a sense of a “band of brothers” in that I have been through virtual combat scenarios with many of those with whom I work. I must say, for most teaching gigs, the fact that I have become somewhat institutionalised would make the transition very difficult as I found out last year. This particular position, however, would provide a much smoother shift. I can’t imagine someone who went straight from High School into university to get a teaching degree filling such a position, that’s for sure!

Anyway, I can puzzle and puzzle and puzzle ‘til my puzzler is sore like the old Grinch, but guess I’ll just have to see how things look on Monday when I meet with the Principal and then go with my gut!


  • At 4:10 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    One of my friends pointed out to me that now is the time for me to decide whether or not I want to Teach, it's that simple. She is totally right in this. Being the introspective cerebral masochist that I am, however, I just can't seem to make this a simple decision. I guess as one grows out of ideals but still perserveres passions through the eddys and currents of responsibility and fearful torrents of change, it is easy to get lost. I've been playing roles so far from the self that I once knew that the character has replaced the actor, kind of like how most Canadian kids of my generation had no idea who Ernie Coombs was, but they all knew Mr.Dress-up.

    Fact is, I really don't know what it is I want anymore, and I don't mean this in a melodramatic self-opitying manner, but, rather, as a mere observation. That's pretty fucked up, no?

  • At 8:11 p.m. , Blogger Jetting Through Life said...

    Wow... sounds like you have a potentially good offer there...

    I would say you'd have to weigh out your benefits as well... I live next door to two correctional officers (husband/wife) and they are considered government employees and get of the perks, which is nice. My husband is a police officer and he gets some good benefits, but nothing like the government offers.

    I was going to mention going into law enforcement but here in the states there is an age cut off, not that 37 is old, but here it is. *sorry*

    Teaching takes a special person... I could never do it personally. The patience involved in it... Ugh! Couldn't imagine. But with your current position it could be a lateral move in a sense. I do understand about the paychecks and having a family to support. I do wish you the best of luck with your decision that you are faced with and I am sure with some deliberation you will make the perfect choice.

    Be well...

  • At 11:45 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Nodroggout, at knight, to say, if you go back to school, you can't beat them up, use chemical agents, manacles and Dissociation. Kids know that. They take advantage of it. Stay with us, stay, stay.... we promise you can use a taser soon; you'll never get to do that in the public or private school, not even if Ralph Klein were the Principal.

  • At 3:56 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    Hey JTL,

    True there are perks working for the Federal Government, without a doubt, and the security of my position can't be seconded. I can't say that I hate what I do either, though I do dislike how my job has come to define me in several ways, and the shift work is pretty tough on family life. So much of this decision is about identity as opposed to simply making a career choice.

    Gordanonymous, I appreciate your endearing comments and would certainly miss many of the folks (staff) that we work with. I guess that I must ask myself why I've applied to other positions: is it because I want out or is it because I feel obligated due to all the time, effort and money that I sunk in to nine years of university.

    ...anyone with a crystal ball out there?

  • At 12:44 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    okay, step out and exercise hope. it's like voting for the candidate who never wins. you get to try and look yourself in the eye. meanwhile i intend to do a cockroach and stay in the walls eating the crud and smiling and waiting for a pension so i can buy enough wine to mask the pain, proverbs, near the end somewhere, advice from solomon's mom, the godiva on a rooftop that leonard cohen can't forget. cold and lonely hallelujah all day long, until closing time...

  • At 7:29 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    My meeting with the school went well and lasted about 90 minutes. In a nut shell, the school is bigger than I imagined, they are offering a term contract (which would be up in June with another offer of a Sept-June term for 2006/07, followed by recommendations for probationary and then permanent contracts with EPSB if all goes well... and don't i hate that "if"...). Salary would be approx $48,000 to start, that's $10,000 more than my present base salary (though when we eventually get a new contract it should bring me close to level with this).

    Security and salaries aside, could I see myself in this job and doing well + enjoying it? Yes, I think I can. Now, bringing the asides back into play, can I take a position with an uncertain future at the expense of my indeterminte position at the joint, knowing that I have a wife and daughter who depend on my salary... well, I've never been a gambler.

    My friend Rachel really nailed it when she wrote to me saying I have to decide whether or not I want to teach, it's that simple. So, contemplating that advice alongside advice I often give folks in that if it's a "yes" or "no" question and you can't decide, then "no" is probably the answer. I guess perhaps that if I'm not jumping at this position, then perhaps I've lost the passion to go down this particular road. Perhaps I am also becoming more conservative, putting the welfare of my family ahead of my notions. I'm cool with that.

    So, unofficially, it looks like I'm going to turn down the position. Perhaps after watching Roller Girls (as Sister Mary Jane is a teacher) and a good night's sleep I will view things differently....

  • At 2:48 p.m. , Blogger Jetting Through Life said...

    I hope that you are happy with your decision. I am glad you mustered around with it...

    While you say corrections will always be around so will schooling... So the job security in that sense will always be there. It's a matter of will they need you as a teacher... Know what I am saying??

    Shift life sucks... My husband is a police officer and works midnights and I work a normal office job 8:30-5:00 we see each other, but it's a lot better with him working midnights than working second shift... I didn't see him for over a year or so it seemed... Makes your marriage last a bit longer whenyou don't see your spouse!! ;o)

    Take care!


  • At 4:36 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    Yeah, my wife is a single mom every 10-11 days. We have a squad system where your squad does 7 day shifts (7-3), has 4 days off and then 2/3 of the squad works afternoons (3-11) and the other 1/3 works graveyards (11pm-7am). When I'm on aftrenoons I never see my family - comes with the turf, sadly.

    Anyway, yes, school will always be around and the only constant is change!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home