March 28, 2012

A New Plan: Job Search, Part 2

It's times like this that I just love blogging and the blogging community--I have gotten so many thoughtful comments and emails over the past month and a half wishing me good luck on my search.  Thanks guys. :)  So far I have no HUGE news, but lots to update on in the job search department!  First of all, looking for a job is TIME CONSUMING!  My goodness.  Between applying for jobs, doing grad school work, and oh yeah, actually being a teacher (plus tutoring, running the science fair, and training for next month's half-marathon...), I'm spread a little thin these days!  I'm a teacher on the edge, folks!  Hence the break from blogging over the past few weeks.  I'm so grateful to be on spring vacation in Florida right now with my's been some much needed relaxation!  And time with this beautiful baby...
But more about this cutie later!  Onto the job search.  So my search continues expanding...While I hadn't been planning on it, I have applied to a few of the nearby districts with openings posted. Now, staying in Chicago isn't really my priority, but I'm still keeping my options open.  Boston is the big priority.  I've been applying like crazy, but no bites yet... :-/  I know it's still only March, so I'm hoping that Boston schools aren't hiring quite yet, not that they're just not interested in me!  We'll see!!  I'd mentioned looking for a job in Colorado as well, and I've pretty much ruled that out at this point.  I'm not sure why, but it's just not where I see myself right now.  I actually got a call for an interview from a district in CO, but turned it down since I'd have to fly out there and I already was luke-warm about the idea by this point.

I had e an interview Friday morning at a school about half an hour from where I currently live.  It went really well, but was just a 1st round screener for two positions in the building, so I'll find out if they want me back for round 2 sometime next week after spring break is over.  The school was beautiful and the administrators seemed really nice, so even though I said Chicago isn't my first choice, I'd for sure be open to the job if I did get an offer.  I also have an interview in my district in a couple weeks, at the school my old principal is currently at.  It will be nice to have a friendly face at the interview, but I'm sure it will be a whole panel--eek.  Hate those!!
Had to dust off my interview suit...literally.  It was in a dry cleaning bag, but a little bit of the color was poking out, and it had collected a layer of dust!  I guess that because teachers don't actually wear suits...I always feel like I'm playing dress up in this thing!
In true Anxious Teacher form, I showed up almost an hour early...good thing my wonderful book club friend loaned me her Kindle so I was able to start rereading Hunger Games while waiting for the interview to start!

The big update though on the job search is that I'm looking outside the country too.  For many years I've dreamed about living and teaching abroad--I'm a total bleeding heart, and have especially wanted to teach in a developing country.  As a senior in college, I actually went through the whole application process for the Peace Corps, and was nominated to serve as a teacher trainer in the south Pacific.  I ended up dropping out of the application process when I got my teaching job offer.  I was having trouble getting medically cleared for the Peace Corps (I'm 100% healthy, but the Peace Corps is super picky, and having a history of asthma and also having struggled with an eating disorder, I was a "medical risk" in their eyes...), and just couldn't turn down a job offer knowing that my Peace Corps dreams might not work out.  

ANYWAYS, long story short, I haven't exactly spent the past three years longing to be abroad, but given this opportunity for a fresh start, my mind has wandered back there.  I applied for a program called WorldTeach a couple weeks ago.  If I'm accepted, I would be volunteering as a teacher for a year in Micronesia.  Never heard of it?  I hadn't either, but it's a tiny little island country in the south west Pacific near Indonesia.  I actually just had a Skype interview this evening, and it went really great.  It's definitely something I can see myself doing, although it's pretty crazy to think about that big of a change, especially when a couple months ago this wasn't in the cards for me at all!  Besides that, I applied to a placement program for teachers at international schools around the world.  Currently, the only positions available that I am eligible to apply for are in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc.).  That's definitely not a region I ever envisioned myself teaching, but I'm beginning to think, why not apply?  Who knows?

We will see.  Please send any and all positive thoughts/job leads/connections/magic wishing beans my way...I'll keep you posted!

March 27, 2012

St. Paddy's Day 8K (Belated) Race Recap

First Race of 2012: CHECK!  On Sunday, March 18th, Katy and I ran the St. Paddy's Day 8K race in Chicago.  Now, part of me wonders who in their right mind would schedule a St. Paddy's Day race for the day AFTER the holiday, as this meant I spent the evening on the actual St. Paddy's day stretching and rolling out on my PVC pipe "foam roller" of death instead of enjoying some Irish brews...oh well, there was beer at the finish line.  :)

Anyways, Chicago was hit with a major heat wave the week before the race--I'm talking record-breaking highs for March.  We had weather hitting 90 degrees!  It was pretty crazy.  Race morning was a nice cool 70 or so when we got up, but by the time we lined up for the race's 10am start, it was already creeping up towards 80.  Gorgeous, yes.  Hot, yes.  Were our bodies ready for hot weather running?  Well, considering that just two Sundays before the race I did my long run in SNOW, slipping on icy sidewalks the whole time, I'd say no!  But more about that later...First, the attire.  Because I can't resist an excuse to dress up for a theme, Katy and I sported these awesome knee socks in spite of the sizzling heat.  I am already trying to think of an excuse to wear them again...
This was Katy's first 8K (not counting our swampy-mud crawl-joke-of-a-race, the Cross Country Challenge, which let's be honest, Katy and I would prefer to pretend never happened...), and the first race of the season for both of us, so we went into it just planning to have a good time and finish strong.  Of course, because I am always wishing for a PR, a little part of me had been hoping to shave a few minutes off my Turkey Trot 8K time, but as soon as I realized how warm it was going to be, I kissed that dream goodbye!

We started the race strong, but I have to be honest, it pretty much went downhill from there.  I am not afraid of heat--I run all summer long.  Buuut I'm not sure my body was quite acclimated to hot weather running yet, and even though a 5 mile distance is typically no big deal to me and actually a favorite distance to run, just finishing this race was a challenge.  After about two miles, my legs and body were just tired!  There wasn't much shade, and we were sweating buckets the whole way.  My legs seemed to get heavier every mile, and our "walk breaks" seemed to get longer...We did manage to accomplish our goal of actually smiling and getting good race photos though!  (I love when there are photographers at a small-ish race!)
I call this our, "We're tired...but we're still moving!" pose
This is my, "If I can't get a PR, at least I will get a good picture!" post
Katy: "No energy left to smile..."
Amy: "I'm laughing because this race is so awful it's funny..."
My personal favorite: Our, "Okay, let's do this..." pose

We ran the race using my trusty 3/1 run/walk interval method, which almost always helps me save up my energy and pull our negative splits, but like I said, this just wasn't my race.  By the last mile, I'm pretty sure the sun had soaked up all my energy and the ever increasing pace on my garmin was depleting my happy mood.  I know, that's terrible, but I'll admit it--I got a little negative by the end!  I'm really glad I had Katy with me, because I would have been having an awful time if I'd been running this one on my own.  Even bad runs are fun with a buddy. :)  We did manage to dig deep and finish strong, crossing the finish line holding hands--only to collapse in the grass and refuse to move for at least 15 minutes...  I'm pretty sure the only thing that got us to get up was the promise of a cold Guinness waiting for us at the post-race party.  
 So, it definitely wasn't a PR and wasn't our best race, but we had a great time.  And, after finishing my first race of 2012, I have the racing bug again big time!  I am already counting the days until this race...
I'm also trying to decide whether or not I can get my act together in time to do a sprint tri on June 10th...I had been planning on doing my first tri at the end of July, but I just found out the race I had picked out, the Iron Girl sprint tri in Racine, WI isn't happening this year!  Bummer, right??  Anyways, June is a little earlier than I'd been planning, but I think I can do it...I will definitely need to get in the pool and on my bike a lot more often, though!  Any thoughts, triathletes?

What races are you most looking forward to this year?

March 26, 2012

still alive :)

Sorry for disappearing--I had a crazy busy couple of weeks between grad school, ISAT, job apps, getting ready for spring break, a St. Paddy's Day 8K, and even a job interview (no news yet, will keep you posted).  But for this week, I am enjoying some Florida sun with the whole family.  Will post more SOON, but for now, I'll leave you with a pic of Dad and my adorable niece, Olivia...

March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: ISAT Edition

Buckle your seat belts, folks...we are knee deep in test booklets and #2 pencils here in Illinois!

My inspiration
Favorite Read Alouds for the week of THE TEST
3 tests down, 3 to go...God help us all...

March 4, 2012

A New Plan: Job Search, Part 1

Can I just take a moment to again thank every single person who commented on my post about losing my job? Your kind words mean the world to me as I deal with this crappy situation.  Many of you asked if I could contact my union because it seems unfair that experienced teachers were let go instead of the newest teachers to the district.  Unfortunately, in my district all non-tenured teachers are on the same playing field and seniority doesn't come into play.  Bummer, right??
Thanks, Michelle, for sending me this magnet!
It is exactly the reminder I needed...

Since I wrote that post last week, as I promised, I have ended the pity party and really begun to make my peace with the situation.  Like I've said in a million posts in the past, and like I told one of my students yesterday at school, in life we can't control what happens to us.  We can only control how we react to situations and how we move forward.  I am in charge of me, remember?  We could go crazy being angry about what happens to us or irate about the injustice of it all...but is that any way to live?  I've decided to see this experience as an opportunity.  Like I said, while I am happy at my school, it has CERTAINLY been less than perfect, and it is definitely not my dream job.  I am choosing to see this as "being set free" from my school, and given the chance to explore something new.
So, I've spent the past two weeks researching and applying to school districts in Boston and in Colorado.  I've been tossing around the idea of moving some place new for a couple years now, and while it would have been nice to do it on my own terms, an opportunity is an opportunity.  I love Boston--I've visited a few times, twice in the past three years, and on both of those recent visits I looked around and thought, "Yeah, I belong here."  My cousin and one of my close friends from high school live there too, so that's another bonus.  Do they need teachers?  No idea.  But that hasn't stopped me from applying to every public and private school I can find.  I actually haven't been to Colorado except for one family ski trip in Steamboat when I was 5 years old.  I don't remember it at all.  But I love the idea of Colorado and figured I'd at least send out some applications and see if an opportunity comes up!

Applying for jobs out of state is certainly a lot more work than jobs in state.  First, I don't know the names of any of the suburbs, and I don't know what the districts are.  I've been doing a lot of google searches and looking at google maps!  Second, there is the certification issue.  I've fully applied for my Massachusetts teaching license, and am in the process of applying for my Colorado license.  Colorado makes you submit finger prints and go through a background check before you can even apply for licensure!  It's definitely been time consuming, and EXPENSIVE!  So far I've spent about $20 on transcripts, $100 on the Mass license app fee, $40 on a background check, $10 on finger prints, and a couple bucks on stamps to ship things out.  Yikes!  And who knows if any of this will even lead to a job!!
The more research I do and jobs I apply for, though, the more excited I am about the idea of starting over some place new.  (I pretty much listen to the song "Boston" by Augustana at least a couple of times a day..."I think I'll go to Boston, I think I'll start a new life...")  I love Chicago, and absolutely LOVE being near my parents and Oldest Brother, but I'm getting a little...restless.  I have always seen myself coming back here, but I feel so much like I need to take this opportunity when I'm young and unattached to experience a new city.  Cross your fingers that something works out!!

Have you ever made a gigantic change in your life?  How did you get the courage to do it?  Did it work out?

March 3, 2012

A Frozen Run + A New Instrument of Torture

I don't know about what the weather's been like where you live, but this has been the weirdest winter EVER here.  Chicago is notorious for bizarre temperature fluctuations--it is not at all uncommon to use the heat and AC in the same day.  But this winter has been downright crazy.  Temperatures have been all over the place!   One day it will feel like spring, then the next we'll have 6 inches of snow dumped on us, and it will be completely melted the next day!  Then two days later we'll have frozen rain and the streets will be like sheets of ice.  (At least we didn't have any -30 windchill days like we did out here last February, although that resulted in a day off school!)  Even though I swore I'd run outside all winter, this weird weather has confined me to the treadmill more often than I'd like!  

Today I laid in bed for an hour, wavering back and forth about whether I wanted to hit the roads outside for my run, and eventually I told myself to suck it up and get out there.  It was over 30 degrees afterall, and I'd persevered through a run in 12 degree weather a few months ago!  Little did I know there were 25mph winds...windy days are where I usually draw the line!  I managed to get through 5 miles though and it wasn't TOO terrible, although it took about an hour for my hands and face to unthaw after!!  When I tried writing down the run in my training log, my fingers were like little claws and it looks like an 8 year old boy printed it.  Oh well!
This picture is totally out of focus, but I think it still captures my RED and FROZEN cheeks and nose!  
I could barely even smile...That's what I get for thinking I didn't need a scarf...

I had a big set-back for my April half-marathon training when I fell and hurt my knee on the ice in January, and then took 2 more weeks off of working out during my epic cold/sinus-infection/disgusting sickness fest in February.  Time off running means both out-of-shapeness and tight IT bands for me!!  I put in a 5 mile "long run" today, and should still be on track to be ready for the Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon at the end of April. Can I just say that I can't wait for spring running weather???  Winter kind of sucks...

In other news, since my Grid foam roller has no longer been "cutting it" with my tight IT bands, let me introduce you to my newest torture device:
Yes, that is a PVC pipe aka my new "foam roller."  Ouch.  It hurts.  Like crazy.  But it is so, so good...The good news is that things are loosening right up as I get back into my running/stretching/yoga routine.  

Also, see the Banjee on my wrist there?  Remember in my review I said that I loved the Banjee except for the fact that it was pretty loose on me?  It fits PERFECTLY over a long sleeved shirt.  Looks like I will be using the Banjee for winter running and the SPIBand for warmer short-sleeved runs.  Love them both tho!

What are you most looking forward to in Spring?
I am looking forward to spring running weather, not having to scrape ice off my car, not freezing at door duty in the mornings, and most importantly SPRING BREAK in Florida with my family to meet me new niece!
I know.  Most beautiful baby ever, right?
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