Dispatch from the classroom

Substitute-teaching gig reveals unexpected talents

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In the middle of a recession, Kristina Henry opted for career change and discovered a new world.

In this economic climate, I did the unthinkable: I left a comfortable job. People say they understand.

It's mostly the women who sigh wistfully. A lot wish they could do the same. Some even romanticize the move.

To others, though, it's akin to committing a crime.

Leaving a perfectly good job while others are losing theirs.

Well, on the bright side, it's like recycling. I did leave, and someone else came in.

Is there ever a good time to leave a job?

During the summer months, it was especially easy for people to comprehend. But summer came and went, and although I did manage to work on some writing projects and volunteer, I also went to the beach, met friends for lunch and enjoyed afternoons by the community pool.

With the advent of fall, I needed a more concrete plan. I also needed some money. I decided to work and give back at the same time. I was going to substitute teach.

It's not easy, and I love it. I think every adult should teach for a week or so during their lifetime. It's an opportunity to see our future and to understand the job our teachers have, which is not easy.

Most teachers leave very creative lesson plans. Occasionally, I've been forced to create my own. I like being busy. Teaching or substituting leaves no time for e-mail or office pranks. You are not sitting at a desk all day. You are advising, instructing and sometimes just keeping order.

One of the reasons I chose this sojourn during my unemployment is that I enjoy the lack of a routine. I like meeting new people and facing new challenges. If a class is bad, you don't have to go back. If a class is good, you can choose it or at least that school again.

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