With the completion of my Ph.D., my Superintendent asked to meet with me. Namely, she asked me to share my journey to this point as well as my next steps. I’ve vaguely been thinking about my next steps, of course, but this degree was mainly for my own learning and possible opportunities down the road, nothing specific, so I feel as though I’m standing at the edge of an unexplored jungle about to take off into the great unknown and discover whatever it is to discover there! But, I guess it would probably be helpful to outline a few of the things I’m hoping to find. (I’ll write another post about my journey to this point later).
Teaching – First, I’m nowhere near ready to leave the classroom. I’m just not done there yet, especially because I think I’ve finally found the perfect fit for me with my position, school, community, and personal life. I want to enjoy this moment for a while – say at least 5 years or so? That’s not a hard deadline, but it feels right. I also don’t feel like I’ve really seen teaching through to my full potential. I’ve been enrolled full time in school throughout my teaching career as well as working extracurricular and part time positions, so I’ve been stretched a bit thin (my friends and family would say that’s an understatement). I’m excited to be able to focus on my practice and really see what I can do with my students when they have my full attention*. Plus, we just adopted SOMOS by Martina Bex, which I’ve been using in my classroom this trimester and really feel it provides a solid backbone to what we’re doing and gives me the freedom to brainstorm, adapt, and play with lesson plans and our program overall since I don’t have to sit and figure out what to teach each lesson sequence (a post is coming on that soon). Finally, I also want to present to my colleagues and share my discoveries as well as create space to learn from them to continually reflect on and improve my practice.
*We all know I’m still going to take on projects, but balance is quickly becoming a nice luxury now.
Research – I’m so excited to finally have the freedom to review literature, brainstorm questions, design studies, and publish results as I collaborate with others along the way! I hope to submit something for publication on a regular basis, maybe once a year or every other year? I’ll have to set some reasonable goals considering I’m full time K-12 faculty, not higher ed, so any research I do is likely to be on my own time (looking at you, summer!). Collaboration and co-publishing should help with that, though. I also applied to be a volunteer with GLSEN as a researcher and in other roles, so I’m hopeful about opportunities there as well! I also plan to begin presenting at conferences – here I come ACTFL! Who else??
Advocacy – Another reason I don’t want to leave the classroom is because our GSA is SO AMAZING! This is our first year, and we’ve already done so much. I want to continue advising this club as it’s one of the most rewarding things I do. Seeing these students support one another and make their community a better place for everyone is a great privilege. I also hope to get more involved with GLSEN and getting with larger advocacy and LGBTQ communities.
Personal Life – It’s nice to finally have the chance to think about what I want to do just for fun! In short, I want to enjoy my hobbies (sewing, reading, etc.), creating stuff, and time with family including my husband, dog, and horse as well as extended family and going on trips.
- Administration – I do have my license, although I wouldn’t say becoming an administrator is necessarily a goal. At the same time, I know it would broaden my perspectives as a researcher and I could ask more informed questions that have a direct impact on schools, especially since administrators are a major influencer in creating inclusive schools. I guess if the opportunity arises, I wouldn’t turn it down, but I may also be able to gain a of those experiences and perspectives through building relationships with administrators (including central office personnel) and interning/shadowing with them.
- Professorship – I love teaching in the K-12 environment, but perhaps I’ll appreciate a change of scenery and more research-oriented focus in the future. I guess we’ll see?
- Research – I do want to spend a significant amount of time researching and publishing. I think my eventual “dream job” would be working with the national GLSEN research team or something similar. But then again I also have my dream job right now with my kids. <3
- Travel – I definitely want to travel more. Next year, I’m taking students to Japan and Cuba, so I think I’m off to a solid start! It would be cool if I could travel and do research. I also have connections with International Schools. But these are really vague ideas – if I can afford to travel in my own time, I’m happy with that, too.
I think that about sums it up. Really, I'm ready to do my best at what I'm doing now and see where it takes me. It's been a wild ride so far, and I don't anticipate the rest being any less boring! But perhaps a little more relaxing - It'd be nice to cut down on the caffeine eventually ;)