Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inspiration from my Business class today...

I had my first business class today and it was a hoot. The teacher was hilarious and kept things moving. For those of you who don't know, I went back to school last semester. I initially thought I might want to make cooking or baking a full-time career, but I've rethought that now. Mostly because the hours usually suck with those jobs, and we want to have a family within the next few years...we're not super-young and can't wait too long! So, I really got to examining what it is that I like to do so that I could make up my mind for once and for all. I really don't want to waste any more time or to fall back into a physically demanding job with bad hours...I just left one of those! I want to find a job in an office setting because I've never had the chance to experience that before. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would like to work in a business setting, preferably with numbers. Something along the lines of accounting or payroll, because I've always been good with numbers...and for other reasons that I will get into in a bit. I really wanted to share the reflection that I just wrote for my homework, because I've had so many people ask why I decided to leave teaching, and I also feel like some people just don't understand why I would do such a thing. This should explain my honest thoughts...

I wanted to write about a slide that was shown in the powerpoint presentation today. It said something along the lines of, "If an organization is not effective, then people are not happy," (meaning its employees, obviously) followed by, "If people are unhappy in their jobs, their physical health can suffer." These two statements, as obvious as they may sound, really resonated with me. They reflect the primary reasons why I am back in school! I originally went to UNM and ended up getting my Masters degree in Elementary Education. I taught kindergarten and 1st grade for six years, and by that sixth year, I had had it! I could go on for days about how broken the school system is in America and how every year, this problem was ineffectively treated. We (teachers) found ourselves having to implement more and more strategies, interventions, tests, and what seemed to be new curriculum every year there at the end...all in the name of raising test scores. And, go figure, nothing was making these arbitrary test scores go up; in fact, they were going down because every year the standards were raised (i.e. a higher percentage of students had to be labeled as "proficient" to avoid becoming a school 'in need of corrective action')

Any teacher could tell you that this was due to a number of factors, not least of all the fact that the entire system was ineffective! Perhaps if we'd kept consistent with any one of hundreds of new strategies we'd tried (if something didn't work, it was almost immediately tossed away without giving it a second chance) one would have worked. More importantly, perhaps if value wasn't placed on test scores alone, we would have had more time in the classroom. People would be SHOCKED to hear how much time was wasted every year administering standardized tests. I would say a conservative estimate would be 9 weeks out of the school year (probably more for me, because I taught K and all of the tests were long and they were one-on-one because the students couldn't read and write yet.) Let that sink in. At least 9 weeks out of a school year...that's a quarter!!!!! Take away all of that time and stress on the teachers and kids and maybe, just maybe, the students would have shown gains, because, gasp, we would have had 9 MORE WEEKS to teach.

Compound that stress with the fact that every year, there were more and more severe discipline problems, and you've got a formula for disaster. Or, at the very least, a very stressed out teacher, and very stressed out students who have to deal with the kid who is throwing books or chairs, or choking other students, all while trying to learn and be tested more than they're actually learning. All of this added up to an ineffective environment and a very unhappy employee. This unhappiness in my job took a toll on my health, both physical and mental. I caught every sickness that came down the pike, even six years into teaching. More importantly, perhaps, I remember crying almost every day in July 2012 because I didn't want to go back in August. I started desperately looking for jobs and realized that I was either insanely overqualified (for places like Page One Books) or unqualified (for aforementioned office jobs, which I desperately wanted but which required associate's in business or accounting or bookkeeping.) I accepted this fate and went back, not wanting to leave my fiancé stranded with all of the bills while we were paying for a wedding.

However, once we were about to get married and all of our wedding and honeymoon was paid for, my husband told me that if the job really was making me that unhappy and sick (and he knew it was, he had to put up with my tears!) that I should try and do something else. He saved my sanity by being so supportive, and he helped me improve my overall health, and for that I can never thank him enough. I have a true treasure in him. Anyway, with his blessing, I left to go back to school and now, here I am, trying my hand with accounting and business. I am also taking a nutrition class, but although that interests me, it would take years for me to get another bachelors, which you need in order to be a dietitian, and as I said, we want to start that family and it'd be nice to have a second income for that.

So, why accounting/bookkeeping? First of all, these were the types of jobs I was wanting to get into when I was looking last year, but was unqualified for. I thought about when I was the happiest in my job. The answer was easy: it was when I was a shift supervisor at Starbucks. The hours sucked and the pay was nothing to write home about, and dealing with customers constantly for hours got tedious after a year or so, but I LOVED my coworkers and I LOVED the managerial elements of that job. I was happiest when I was in charge of ordering, calculating the employees' weekly tips, and doing the daily deposit. Numbers have always made sense to me. When I was 5, no lie, my parents could tell me a year, like 1865, and ask me how many years ago it was, and I could calculate it in my head. Having taught five year-olds, this is no small feat. Even still, doing that and other calculations in my head is fairly easy to me, and I can connect years to events like no one else I know, which is kind of a random talent, but still rooted in number smarts, I guess. So, this all makes sense to me, and hopefully it's the right path.

If you've stuck with me through this long blog, I appreciate it. Now you know why I did what I did...and knowing is half the battle!