Brushing the dust off

by jeffraven Email

Man I haven't posted here in a long time.  Facebook has largely replaced this blog, simply because I have a larger audience there.  I guess however, more indepth writing should be posted in this medium.

I do have a quick update- I have a teaching job in North Carolina.  It's been going quite well, but I've learned that the grass isn't always greener- just a different kind of grass.  More on that later.   Hopefully I'm going to keep this going.

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I'm on my way from misery to happiness today

by jeffraven Email

It has been a very crazy past few months.  I've barely had any time to write or even do anything relaxing.  I've finally wiped out that pesky debt and it's WONDERFUL!  The sense of relief is unimaginable.  The idea that I don't have to work 70 hours a week anymore is liberating!

So what am I doing with my time?  Well I need to follow up on the leads I got from the trip to North Carolina.  I need to get certified for Social Studies as well.  I'm spending time with my dad.  I think I might also spend some time playing a few games that I've collected but haven't played.

I'm excited for North Carolina!  Looks like it's going to be my new home.

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Dreamer of the Day

by jeffraven Email

"Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." - T. E. Lawrence


I have a dream.  I see myself sometime in the future at my beautiful two-story home with the white picket fence and garden.  There is a pond for swimming and fishing in the back.  It is a quiet lazy summer afternoon and I've already returned from school.  In the back I'm splitting wood in preparation for the winter.  My gorgeous wife is inside, relaxing from a day of keeping up with the children.  Dinner is simmering on the stove.  My family and I live comfortably because of our faith and hard work We live an hour from the mountains and two hours from the coast.  I feel content but still nonetheless determined.

This is a dream, but it doesn't mean anything unless I hold onto and and work towards it.  This is why I am doing what I am doing.

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Over and Overtime

by jeffraven Email

As a side note, I have been working like crazy. Between my three jobs I've been putting in 65 hours a week. Sometimes I feel burned out but as long as I get enough sleep I tend to do really well.

Why am I working so hard? I have a bad debt that went to collections and they've been harassing me lately. I want to resolve this debt but without any money I can't do much. I'm hoping all this extra work will pay off and I can then pay the bad debt off and be done with it.

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The Story So Far...

by jeffraven Email

It is November and I have not found permanent work as a science teacher. I am undaunted.

I've been substituting pretty much every day and combined with my second job as a cashier I am making ends meet. I remain positive. During this process I have learned a couple things that I'd like to share.

Finding a teaching job isn't as much as where I'm from or what I can do as it is who I know. In the past it was very common to get hired with a phone call. Not anymore. Just like any other job out there these days, networking is very important. I've talked to principals and they're all in agreement- they almost always go with the person they know. I cannot stress how important it was to make a good impression at the schools where I student taught and substituted. Forming connections might not guarantee me the job but it will certainly put me ahead of hundreds who apply from outside.

I want to substitute every day, so I've signed up with multiple districts(I'm with six). It can be as easy as walking into their administration building and asking for an application. This also helps me cast a wide net. The more schools I sub for the more exposure I get.

I don't think anyone should have the expectation of being handed a job anymore, no matter what they do. However, the effort put into finding a job should be as much as I would do actually working the job!

Personally now, my current plan is to continue to substitute/tutor, save up some cash, and then during the spring I'm going to travel down to VA and NC for their teacher recruitment events and apply in person. I don't have any real connections down there but I'm working to develop some.

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Abundant Seconds

by jeffraven Email

I finally managed to secure a second job as a cashier at a major retailer. I have yet to really do any cashiering, but so far I think this is going to be an decent job.

I am first and foremost a teacher, but what I do during the day doesn't really feel like a job. Actually when I substitute I feel like I'm just spending 7 hours at a playground. My second job does feel like actual work though. Have you ever felt like that- where you loved one of your jobs so much that it was easy to do and was so much fun it didn't feel like work?

I'm working less than 25 hours right now at the retailer but I'm hoping to bump it up for a few months. My substitute job is about 35 hours(if I work every day) and I want another 30-35 hours from the second job. From where I am right now it doesn't really seem like I would be working 60+ hours, though. I just hope I don't get overwhelmed or burned out.

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Be careful what you wish for...

by jeffraven Email

Many things have been on my mind lately. As of my last post, I had returned to substituting but the jobs have been intermittent. I'm hoping they will start to pick up real soon so I can be back to full time work again.

I've known that substituting wasn't going to generate enough income for me. I considered a second job- either working for a store or possibly tutoring. I've also been wanting to donate some of my time for tutoring as well. I decided to talk to a few folks at church about these things and it seems the answers all came in one day.

After asking my pastors about anyone looking for employees, I stopped at the Halloween display. It advertised a pumpkin painting/carving contest- which as most of you know is right up my alley. Our church's event director told me a little about it and I told her about my desire for a second job, possibly tutoring. As it turns out, my church was looking for someone to volunteer to teach faith-based science lessons. I was directed to our Sunday School director and she told me about it. I've looked over the curriculum and I think it is something I can do.

Despite not having any leads from church, I went home and felt pretty happy. Later that day, I get a call from a local retail store looking to set up a job interview! Suffice it to say it took all week but I got hired as a cashier. I'm surprised at the pay rate they are offering as well- I thought it would be much less. I can expect to 28-35 hours a week and can increase based upon request and need. I'm looking forward to it.

Things are looking up and I cannot deny God's influence in the week's events. Even before all this went down, I decided I was going to tithe, no matter what. I figured out how to make it work in mind and in my budget. I think once I figured it out, God sent me a little help my way. Thank you!

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Sub Again

by jeffraven Email

It's been a rough summer, but I'm a substitute once again and I am still living in Western NY.

I worked an unpleasant summer job while continuously applying for teaching positions. It wasn't until the end did the unpleasantnesses get fired or quit, however that did not help my mood when it came to finding a teaching job. I've realized that doing this all online is not working for me(because it hasn't). That said, I have decided to change tactics.

I have been given information that I have since learned is not true. For example, the idea that school districts are going to hand me a job simply because I am educated in NYS is a fallacy. Also, the idea that applying for a teaching job is vastly different from applying for any other type of job is also a fallacy.

What I need to do is to make contacts where I want to work and show up in person. My plan for the next few months is to work as much as possible, save up as much as possible, and when the education job fairs start in the spring, I will be making several trips to VA and NC and apply in person.

I will also spend these months honing my interview skills and make sure my resume/cover letters are immaculate. It's going to be a rough ride but God never said life was going to be easy. Wish me luck!

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Sub No More

by jeffraven Email

It's the end of the school year and I'm done substituting. It has been a wonderful experience, and I've enjoyed just about every day. I've also made up my mind completely about what I want to teach- and it's Middle School science. I have made such a great connection with Middle School kids and it's the age level at which I have the most fun. High School kids are fun in their own way, but more often than not, if they're not interested in the class they won't do any work. Chemistry is very abstract and it can be tough to generate interest in such a specific curriculum. Middle School science is general enough that I know that I can make every topic fun and exciting. So, I definitely want to teach Middle Schoolers, and I look forward to it.

I feel like the past few months have been nothing more than a holding pattern, waiting for my career to take off. I've applied for several more positions in Virginia and North Carolina, but I have not gotten word back yet. I was warned that it may take some time as this is a very busy time for school districts, so I know I should expect to wait some time for a response.

However, as June is almost up and I still haven't gotten word I'm getting a little anxious. I'm starting to feel a little directionless. I'm a planner so I like to have things laid out- it makes me nervous going into a new situation without that plan or destination.

I hope the anxiety is unfounded and I just need to be more patient. I really do. Time will tell, nonetheless.

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Going south

by jeffraven Email

I've been applying for jobs down south for the next school year. As I mentioned before, I've been looking at Virginia and North Carolina. I've sent in a few applications for Virginia districts, and more recently a few for North Carolina. Imagine my surprise when I discovered how easy it is to apply for NC teaching certification. Virginia's process is much more involved and I would have to take some more tests, but North Carolina showed me the paperwork and that's all I need. Why is it so easy? Because I have NYS certification and they will take everything as a direct transfer. How sweet is that?

So I don't have the job yet, but the application was sent on Friday. I hope to get a call back soon so that I may begin applying directly to the schools(VA and NC have their school districts arranged by county). Things are looking very bright for me and I can't wait to start doing the thing I was born to do.

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Getting back up Anyway

by jeffraven Email

I need to make a confession. The past few months I have not cared to watch my calories or exercise with any consistency. I've had no motivation to do so, and thus I have gained weight. I'm not happy about it, but I am also no longer going to be complacent about it either.

I lost my motivation. I've never been real open about my original motivations for exercising and calorie counting. Recently that motivation has been wiped away, so I stopped caring. No longer.

I've found a new motivation. My intentions are no longer based upon a corporeal thing or person. Rather, I'm putting my strength towards God's will. I truly believe that this world was created by God in order for us to learn what are best can be. The challenges we face are there for us to overcome and thrive. From here on out, I will face the challenge for God and I will overcome it with God's help.

I've rededicated myself to my plan and I'm using the tools I have access to in order to accomplish it. I'm back to counting calories using an iPhone app(loseit.com) and as soon as the weather gets warmer I will be outside walking again. I mean it this time, and with God at my side, I cannot fail.

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I Love My Job

by jeffraven Email

So I'm having a wonderful time with my job. I was worried that it might be worse than I expected but so far it's been great. The only problem I was having was that I wasn't getting enough!

I'd like to be called in every day. I mainly get called by one school(my first student teaching placement) and by the time the other schools call, I've already accepted with that first one. Oh well- as of today I should be getting called every single day. I am now on the sub-list for 5 schools, and that should fill out my schedule very nicely.

Substituting isn't like real teaching in that I don't have to make a plan for a whole year. Typically the teacher has left some notes and I follow them. In cases were I don't, I have think on the fly. Since I substitute for all kinds of teachers, I'm able to draw upon my well-rounded education and get to be creative. It's really a great deal of fun!

The main lesson I've received from substituting is classroom management techniques. I've been able to get some good practice in quieting a class down, getting them to focus on the tasks, and discipline has not been too difficult. I start the class by introducing myself and posting the agenda on the board. I've learned that students like to know what's going on. Also, I keep a list of rules handy and I stick by them. Consistency is so important.

Overall, things are going really well in my professional life. Once I'm working every day and I can start saving money, I'm going to be quiet satisfied until the summer!

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First Day Subbing

by jeffraven Email

I think I've been spoiled.

I got the call this morning at 5:30am. The school needed a substitute for the 8th grade Spanish class. I took the job. So why was it spoiling?

This was the school that I did my middle school student teaching. Most of the students already knew who I was and I already had a good relationship with them. I was expecting the worst though but I couldn't have expected it to go as well as it did. The students listened to me, did what I asked and we got through the the material the teacher had provided quite easily. I knew the teacher well, too so I had an idea of what she expected.

I have read accounts of substitute teachers' first days and many of them were nightmares. I decided I did not want a nightmare so I prepared myself ahead of time. The major cause of substitute nightmares are when the substitute goes in without maintaining control. Classroom management is always a struggle but can be more difficult for the sub because they're not the teacher. I wanted to make sure I had control right from the start. I had two methods to accomplish this: I wrote the teacher's agenda on the board, and I used a short list of rules that remained consistent throughout the class. It worked really well.

But is this a real substitute experience? I'm not sure. The students already knew me and I already knew the school. It was actually quite pleasant and not the dreadful experience some other subs have shared. I will continue to learn and add to my 'bag of tricks' as I substitute. I'm signed up for two more districts and I should have a fourth by the end of February. Hopefully this will give me full-time work for the rest of the school year and I'll be able to save for the big move.

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Seeking a Higher Resolution

by jeffraven Email

So I have some goals in mind for 2010.

I am now officially certified and I already have some interviews scheduled for substitute teaching. Once I'm fully employed I will begin the process of getting certified in a few other states down south and then seek interviews with districts down there.

I will finish my book list from last year, finishing up Boundaries by Henry Cloud, More than Enough by Dave Ramsey, and Stop Acting Rich by Thomas J. Stanley. I have a few more books to add to this year's list and they include The Go-Getter by Peter B. Kyne, Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud, and Scratch Beginnings by Adam W. Shepard.

Another goal is to save up roughly $4000 by June in order to move down south. I have not set a specific location yet, as I'm still doing research, but I hope to have a good idea by the end of March.

I have realized that my weight loss is at a stalemate until I can have the skin surgery. Most of what I have left is excess skin, so I cannot get a good gauge as to how much more I can lose until that's removed. My goal then is to maintain my current weight and physique through my current diet and exercise regiment.

Finally, I plan on making one of the biggest leaps of my life. Surgery was pretty big, but this time I am moving to another state, possibly with no friends or family. It is scary, but I have faith in God and He will guide my path. I feel drawn down there, and I believe it is where I will make my fortune. Wish me luck!

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