I Did Better in Math than I Thought

When you take the GRE on a computer, it tells you your “unofficial” scores directly after. It is your unofficial score, because the computer is only able to score two of the three sections.

I got a 156 in quantitative reasoning. This was a higher score than I got on any of the practice tests I took. My practice range had been about 150-153. Yay! The math score that counts was higher!

My verbal reasoning score was a 155, though. In practice tests I had been getting in the range of 159-163. I didn’t feel like it was terribly different. I don’t know if subconsciously I was so nervous about math that I just didn’t pay close attention? Boo on the score that counts being lower.

The third section involves two essays. Those each get scored out of 6. I feel like I wrote pretty decent pieces, but I guess I will find out in about 2 weeks. For now, there is nothing else I can do but wait. My GRE scores seem to fall in a pretty good range for acceptance.

I just have a few pieces left to knock out before I can submit my application. I have already put together all of the other parts, including proof of application to the university proper, official transcripts, resume, essay on why they should pick me, teaching certificate.

I am waiting to receive my letters of recommendation. I need three, and I sent requests to five people last week. Two have confirmed they will do it. No response from the other three yet. I am planning on sending another request to a sixth person today, just in case. I will follow up with the others at the start of next week? I don’t want to appear pushy.

The final piece is the portfolio. It needs to have 6 pictures and an essay. I am supposed to show different elements from a show I was part of at a school and explain my job and how we overcame problems. I have been taking pictures of the different technical elements for the contest piece I am directing currently. I have a picture of my set design, my lighting presets. I am going to take a picture of the costumes tomorrow, many that I had to hand sew the alterations on since the school does not have a sewing machine. I am going to take a picture of some of the set decor and additional set pieces that I am going to have to make and build myself. Since I am now a one-person team, I am planning on writing about my lack of tech experience being the problem and here is how I have tackled the issues one at a time. I figure that being honest about my weaknesses will show them that I really do want to get into this program to get better!

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I am Taking the GRE on Monday

I am in the midst of applying to grad school.

Though I am applying to a program that requires me to do a philosophical essay, get letters of recommendation, create an artistic portfolio, and more… The GRE is what is really freaking me out. Math isn’t my strongest suit.

I first heard about the program 4 years ago from my mentor. She explained how it completely changed the way she taught and that it was the best program she had ever been a part of. She is an amazing teacher, so I was immediately interested.

The program is set up for teachers. It is three summers of intense classes and portfolio building on specific topics during the school years. I started looking into the program to prepare my application.

Then I got hired in a different district as the head of the high school. (Yeah, the school I just left.) So I knew I was going to be very busy that first year, learning the ropes. I decided to postpone graduate school for a year. I knew it would be overwhelming.

The following year I was pregnant. Obviously not the right time!

Last year, I was learning how to handle a newborn. I honestly had the information with every intent to apply so I would have started this past summer. It was in my planner and everything! But in the haze of new parenthood, I just never got my information together.

While I was at that work conference a few weeks back, I saw a session on this program.

At first, I was like “Why should I go to that? If I am starting to doubt I want to teach anymore, this would be a waste.”

But then I realized that I still wanted to be a professor. I would LOVE to teach at a community college or a full university. There are positions open. The only thing preventing me from applying? The letters M.A.

Two colleges were actually having sessions about their “Master’s for Teachers” programs. I went to both.

Thoughts on the first session I went to for a program I had never heard of:

  • Pro: Whoa, estimate of $12,000 total to get my Masters? Not that we just have that money sitting around, but that is pretty dang cheap for graduate school.
  • Pro: You can get the degree in 14 months!
  • Pro: In Texas, so I am in state.
  • Pro: Not the same school that I got my undergraduate degree at. I know this shouldn’t matter, but I was worried if I had degrees from the same school twice that it might look like I wasn’t able to get in anywhere else?
  • Con: I have never even heard of this school, so would a degree from there be “worthwhile”?
  • Con: 14 months if you take their full course the whole time, which is two complete summers (start of June through start of August) plus 2 intensive online courses during the fall and spring semesters. As if my current job lets me spend a ton of time with my family, adding in two full time online grad courses during the semesters? I was looking into these programs because it was summer based.
  • Con: About a 5 hour drive from me, so while I was in state, I would not be able to actually stay at home while in school. The set-up is all day Monday and Tuesday with some work on Wednesday mornings, so they had explained that most people get a hotel on Sunday and typically leave Wednesday. That adds up over a whole summer for two summers.
  • Con: I do not know anybody who has gone through this program. I like anecdotes.

Thoughts on the second session I went to for the school I had previously heard about:

  • Pro: Literally a 30-minute drive from my house.
  • Pro: I know at least three people who have gone through this program and all of them are amazing teachers and directors who I would love to be more like.
  • Pro: Classes are only in the summer and just for 4 weeks, Monday through Thursdays. The fourth week is actually a trip to NYC/Chicago/London (rotates each year) with shows and workshops with professional troupes and companies.
  • Pro: An extremely competitive program that is very well known and looked upon highly in this field. In fact, a recent graduate of the program is now a professor at the university!
  • Con: Estimate of about $20,000 total.
  • Con: No classes in the school year, but I needed to update my portfolio during the school year based on what I had learned the previous summer.
  • Con: The same university I received my Bachelor’s Degree from.

Both sessions really made me realize that I want to get my Master’s. And for a variety of reasons, apparently. For starters, it is required for the job that I want. I want out of the current situation I am in and this is my way. It will be hard for a little while, but short term pain for long term gain? Secondly, for myself. I feel like getting my Master’s will really help my own self-worth. I have wanted this for awhile. I want it, I need to work for it. It shows me that I am worthwhile.

And finally, for my daughter.

I have every intention of raising my daughter with the knowledge and awareness that she can do and be anything that she wants to be as long as she puts in the work. She has to work, but she can achieve her dreams if she doesn’t give up. What kind of hypocrite would I be if I told her that but actually had given up on myself? Also, way to show her that a woman can be the person with the highest level of education in a household! Setting an example like that for her? Going for her goal even after having a child, showing her that you keep working at it.

Yes. That is what I want her to see. That she is a smart, strong woman who has a smart, strong woman as a mother.

Once I was all fired up about grad school, I weighed the pros and cons and quickly decided on my Alma mater as the program I wanted to aim for. Several of the things said in that presentation helped sway me without being on the pros/cons list. Both presenters had brought a few people who were recent graduates from the program. At the second session, someone asked about financial aid. I know this school is great with that seeing as I received quite a bit from them with my Bachelor’s and it was actually the reason I picked that school over my other acceptances. But one of the recent grads said something that stuck with me.

“I took a student loan. Yes, I am still paying off my loans from my Bachelor’s, but I figured that I was going to die before I paid off those loans anyway. I know that is depressing, but it’s the truth. Why should I let my fear of taking another loan that I will never be able to repay completely prevent me from doing something that I really want? Oh, and the entire time you are enrolled, all your loan payments and interest are deferred since you are a student again!”

I had never thought about the fact that if I really wanted it, go ahead and get it and just keep chipping away at the student loans. Don’t let my previous student loans scare me into not going for it.

That was the moment I was like “OK, let’s do this.”

I got home and put the information on my desk. I talked to my husband about it. He completely supported me. I looked at it again a week later and started the application process.

I worried about the timing. Maybe now wasn’t the right time. I am such a mess right now.

 

 

And then I started laughing.

I was waiting for the ideal time. There is no ideal time. Yes, pregnancy and a newborn were really good reasons to not have previously applied. But was I really going to let my fear stop me this time?

So I have been working on it. I have ordered my transcripts, done the general grad application to the school, started my portfolio, contacted some colleagues asking for letters of recommendation (including my mentor who told me about the program), started my essay.

My GRE is scheduled for Monday morning. I am terrified of this part. Even with the fact that the presenter and recent grads all talked about the fact that their scores were not great and that the portfolio was clearly the most important aspect into acceptance in this program.

I debated taking the GRE in about a month, so I would have time to study. But I know me. I procrastinate. Or forget. Or get busy. Plus, GRE at the holidays? No, thank you. My best option was to take it earlier. Bite the bullet and get it done. Essentially, call my own bluff.

I have not been able to study as much as I would have liked, but that would have been the same no matter when I took it. That whole “ideal time” thing, again. During my lunches, I have been going over sample questions. I took a full practice test today. I fell in the range of “Good”, even with my dismal math skills for the quantitative section. I will take another one tomorrow.

And Monday morning, it is game time.

Not All Days are the Same

Not even all hours are the same.

 

I know at first, you are thinking, “Well, duh. How does this cause you anxiety?”

I am referring to routines. Things that should be the same whenever you do them.

Presently, I am talking about my classes.

I teach three different preps. That means that out of my 7 classes, three are the same subject (Intro), another three are the same (intermediate), and the last one is the only class of that material (advanced). All of my intro courses are doing the same material on the same day, etc.

Obviously the students in the class make the difference. I am not saying that I thought the students in one of my intermediate classes would learn and behave exactly the same way that the other intermediate classes learn and behave.

I am referring to the lack of consistency even within the same class periods.

Plain and simple, my 4th period class is my worst class.

(If teachers ever tell you that they love all of their classes and students the same, they are lying. Of course we have favorites.)

The mix of students and when the class period happens just makes that class terrible. That is fine. Whatever. Most of the time, they are doing a modified version of what the other intermediate classes are doing, since I know they will not get to do the final activity due to being off task. Yet they will occasionally spring it on me and work. Which is great! That is a nice surprise.

I really hate when other classes conspire to suddenly be THE WORST when they are normally great. Especially with how my day is broken down.

1: OK
2: great
3: good/great
4: BOOOOOOOOO
5: OK
6: OK/not good
8: good

With lunch being after my third period, my morning is normally pretty nice. I have conference 7th period, so 4-6 is usually pretty rough. Then I recuperate during my conference and teach my last class.

So I normally have planned and prepared for the middle of the day to suck. But sometimes they decide to up the ante on themselves even more.

“Just how awful can we be today? Can we break our record from last week?”

These days can clearly be disheartening. And it feels like when one class is truly awful, they somehow infect the next class period. They leave their awful behavior hats on the desks for the next class to pick up and wear.

Yesterday was one of those days. Morning and end of the day went fine. But that middle chunk…

4th period didn’t get to play the new game because they wouldn’t focus. Oh well. Not unheard of. 5th period was “fun” because a student threatened me and was physically removed from my room. 6th period also didn’t get to play the game because they were so horrendous that I had them copy directly from the text book. I had them do the section talking about behavior and etiquette.

Either way, I was seriously contemplating quitting.

Now it is time to see if today will be more of the same or if they will participate.

I Don’t Know Where to Start

As mentioned in my last post, I have been having a terrible time lately.

My work is really triggering me in so many ways. It is clear that I need to get out of that toxic environment.

But I have no clue where to look.

I have been checking other district sites on the off chance that they need a teacher with my certification, but I am not putting much stock into that:

  • It is still so early into the school year. The only people who would have left by now, quit… and why would they quit if the school was great?
  • Jumping into a new district without the inservice days that let me at least learn a few people’s names would just increase my feelings of isolation.
  • I am not sure I want to stay in education.

Ever since the Santa Fe shooting, I have been growing more and more aware of this dark cloud in me saying “Get out. Now.”

Maybe this is my chance?

But I don’t know how to look elsewhere. My degree, certifications, and work experience limit my choices. A few friends suggested non-profits and inter-corporate training positions. I have no clue how to get into those fields. Would I have the skills needed?

The biggest question, though, is would I be able to afford starting all over.

When we had been looking at houses, we looked at our financials seriously to see what we could feasibly afford. While this didn’t end in a house, it did end with me knowing a very accurate amount that I need to earn per month for us to still be OK.

(Side note: I felt bad when friends would suggest I just quit and focus on my mental health and finding a job while away from my current toxic workplace, because despite me feeling that it is what would truly be best for me, it is completely impossible.)

Jumping into an entirely new industry where I have no experience would put me at entry-level, low paying positions. Not that teachers make a ton (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) or anything like that, but if I had to take a second job doing remote tutoring with the pay cut I took for this job, can you imagine what would happen with the pay cut that would come with me being entry level in a new field?

I don’t want that to be the reason I am trapped, but it looks like it might be.

It was suggested that I contact a recruiter. I am going to look into that. They would be able to tell me if I am wasting my time by searching for this magical position.

Things Have Taken a (Mental) Turn for the Worse

I am in a terrible place lately. My suicidal thoughts have increased dramatically. I have started hurting myself again. I am getting help. But I feel like saying it isn’t enough. Putting it here, in writing, is like a contract to myself. I am doing something about it, but I wanted to post about it as well. Especially since everybody on social media is posting that copy-and-paste “I am a safe space” thing for mental health awareness. Saying that is all well and fine, and may work for some people. But I know that for myself, personally, I would never take somebody up on that. I wouldn’t want to bother them with something as menial as me. I would feel like I was imposing, despite them posting that. I felt guilty even mentioning to my husband, the man that I have lived with for 5 years, that I wasn’t well. Thankfully, he knows me enough to know that I must have been really serious to say anything. Normally I just bury it and say “it’s fine” which everyone knows is not.

Yes, it is great to offer up a blanket support statement of “anybody can reach out to me.”

But some people who are suffering are not able to do that.

Since I feel worthless, why would I waste your time when there are other people you could be helping?

Just tossing this out there for other people to think about.

It’s like with dogs. Some dogs will walk right up to you to let you pet them and play with them. Others need you to approach them first, with care and caution, before they will play.

An “open door” policy doesn’t seem like that to some people. It actually presents itself as even more of a challenge. Which results in people not actually reaching out despite needing to. Sometimes you have to reach out specifically.

“But I meant my message. Anybody can come to me.”

No. Some people cannot. Not because of you. Because of them.

It’s Opening Night

The show opens up tonight.

I did really well at the rehearsal on Wednesday. I know that I have done all that I can and am confident in my own performance. I cannot make that same statement for someone else in my cast.

I was not able to attend last night’s rehearsal, due to Open House at my school. I am hoping (despite all odds pointing to ‘no’), that the other actor had pulled himself together and finally learned his part.

As of Wednesday, he had finally learned most of the middle scenes but magically forgot the entirety of the last scene.

My character is crazy by that point and they are throwing her out despite her not wanting to go. So I can’t even cue him along.

“Are you about to throw me out?”

“Yes, we are throwing you out!”

“No! I won’t go!”

That doesn’t really work.

You know what actually bothers me the most?

The director is always getting on me if I am even off the slightest bit with paraphrasing or skipping one word. If I say “Go away! Leave me alone.” and the line is actually “Just leave me alone!”, they will stop rehearsal to correct me. And then make a note again at the end that I need to look at my lines.

But he doesn’t know whole chunks and they never even say anything along the lines of “Maybe you could look at your lines.”

I suppose they think that obviously he must know he needs to look at his lines since he doesn’t know any. That doesn’t seem to be the case, though.

I had been really excited about the fact that I was finally going to be the last one to get to do my bows, too. The bow order in shows goes from the smallest part to the lead. In my adult acting career (outside of school shows), I have been near the end, even second to last, before. But this would be my first show to really get to take the final bow.

Except.

The director decided to have me bow second to last.

The guy who hasn’t learned his lines is getting to bow last.

 

 

I am frustrated. This show has ended up being some of my very best acting work to date. But if he doesn’t do his part, it won’t matter.

My Show Opens on Friday

Our play opens up on Friday.

I know my lines and my part pretty well. I know all of my blocking. I have all of my costumes.

But I am not ready for the show to open.

Here’s why:

This is my first time doing a play again since before I got pregnant. With this marking my return to getting to act on stage, I really want it to go well. Therefore, I have put a lot of effort into not letting my cast mates (or myself, if I am being honest) down.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a few people in the cast.

One lady was really struggling with her lines a lot and kept saying she was working on them. We all offered to help and she never took us up on it. Thankfully, she has actually gotten much better in the past few days, so she is getting there.

But there is one man in the play who really does not know his lines at all. Out of the 6 different scenes, I would say he is 75% correct and confident in 1 of them. He is probably 50% in 2 more. He is about a third of the way there in 2 more.

And there is one scene that he maybe remembers two of his lines? He doesn’t know ANYTHING for that scene.

And… His part is a major part. His character is leading the rest of us on an experiment. His character is often informing our characters of things we don’t know. So it isn’t like we can even help out by hinting to him (which is what often happens when someone is dropping lines all over the place – the other actors help guide them towards their lines).

We are down to our final three rehearsals. And I actually cannot be at the one on Thursday since it is Open House at the school I work at.

I may be ready, but the show is not.