Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kyle's Departure from Subbing

This is going to be a two-parter simply because of length.  

Kyle has actually been at his new job for over a year now.  He started at Navient in Muncie in March of 2015 as a solutions navigator (I think that’s his technical title).  Navient is Sallie Mae, by the way. Student loan place.  It’s really funny; when people ask Kyle what he does and he tells them he works at Navient, hardly anyone knows what he is talking about, unless they’re young and have a katrillion dollars of student loan debt.  And, sadly, a lot of them do. The rest of the people, we just have to say Sallie Mae, and they know.

Basically how Kyle arrived at his job is this...we needed money.  We wanted to expand our family and buy a different house, and simply put, that took more money than what we were making.  There were a lot of good things about his years of subbing and a lot of bad things.  The list of bad things consisted mostly of two things.  One was the pay was TERRIBLE.  The other was there was nowhere to go from there; there was no job advancement, no promotions.  

There were more good things, though.  And I’m going to get a little sappy and dewy-eyed while I write this, because I don’t know that we appreciated what we had at the time. I think we worried too much about the bad things to truly see the good ones in their proper perspective.  

One good thing about Kyle’s subbing was we got to keep the same schedule and we got breaks together. I firmly believe that our relationship is as strong as it is because we got to spend so much time together, working at the same place, seeing each other all the time.  We really did like it.  Now it feels like we barely spend time together, although that really isn’t true (most of the time we’re parenting, though, so it really just feels like we are in the same room as each other, but we’re not hanging out together.  Does that make sense?).  But for the majority of his time subbing we also didn’t have any kids, so the time we spent outside of work together we were truly TOGETHER. I’m not sure what our marriage would be like now if we hadn’t had so much togetherness at the beginning.  It would still probably be good, but not like it is now.  We were very used to spending time together...we spent four years of college together.  It would have been so strange to just suddenly...not be together.  

Another thing that was positive is he got to be there a lot during Audrey’s first milestones.  He got to see her as much as I did, which isn’t like now.  We really can’t help that she sees me more than she sees him now.  Audrey stays home with me in the summer.  She goes to the sitter with me and is in the car with me.  She generally just SEES me more now that Kyle has a different job. But when he worked at school, she didn’t favor one parent over the other because she saw us the same amount.  It was all equal.  Which was a lifesaver for me, trying to plan for school and grade and doing the first-time parent thing.

Lastly, and this is probably the one that will have the most far-reaching consequences, Kyle got to really understand my job.  Like it or not, not everyone knows what it’s like to teach.  They just assume that since they’ve sat in a classroom before and watched someone do the job I do for 8 hours a day, 180 days a year,13 years of their lives that anyone can do it.  Maybe I thought that once...I don’t know.  But that just isn’t true.  One of my college professors told our class my first year of college that teachers should marry teachers because no one else will understand your emotional baggage, the stress of it, the grading, why you can’t be fully at home even though you’re physically at home, etc.  How you can’t just roll out of bed and go in to do a have to literally create the job you need to do.  There aren’t many professions like that.  

Kyle was never a licensed teacher, but he knows what it’s like, at least as much as someone who was never a licensed teacher could.  He saw the kids.  He knows what we have to work with everyday.  He’s not disillusioned into thinking that just because you speak Spanish that you can wind up with a class of 30 who will be able to, too.  Just because you have an English degree that you can help people learn to read (for goodness sake, I teach English and I don’t even know how to teach people to read.  You learn to read in elementary school. I don’t teach elementary school.  I know about as much as a plumber does about that).  Kyle doesn’t think that just because you’re an engineer, you can walk into a room and make other people understand math. He knows that no matter what you do, some kids just refuse to learn. Or that some kids desperately want to learn but don’t have the mental capacity to do so.  Or that there are outside factors, like parents, lack of sleep, attention disorders, etc. that cause kids to not learn.  That you can’t just assign 1,000 pages of reading a night because it’s just not going to get done.  And I get that a lot of people intellectually know all of this, but they don’t KNOW it.  They don’t realize it.  They don’t feel the impact of it.  They just intellectually know it and that’s different than understanding it.

Kyle did my maternity leave with Audrey and tried to memorize every kid’s name (he managed one class in 5 weeks, but that was about it; most teachers have all their high school classes down at the end of the first week of class).  He tried to memorize what every kid’s IEP said.  What kids were going on field trips and what work to get to them ahead of time.  He made the copies and did the grading (except the essays...he didn’t do those) and he did the novel reading with them (bless his heart...have you tried to teach a novel in front of a class of 30 that you’d never seen before?  Even I haven’t done that).  He didn’t do the planning itself, but he made sure to talk with me in depth about what needed to be done the week before and where the kids should end up.  And if he had technology fail or a convocation that I couldn’t predict, he had to make decisions about what to do next with his end goal still in mind.  

I remember going in once on my maternity leave and just seeing piles and piles and piles of papers EVERYWHERE.  On my desk, the floor around the desk, in front of the dry erase board, on top of my filing cabinet.  I asked him if this was all stuff to hand back.  “No,” he said defensively, “It’s stuff to grade. And don’t touch any of it; I know where everything is.”

Most of all?  At the end of the five weeks, he told me, “I could never do this.”  He gained a lot of respect for what I do, which not many people have.  I feel indebted to him for this.  He never questions if I really am working hard or why I do what I do or make the decisions I make at work, because he knows he couldn’t do those things himself.  Some teachers’ spouses don’t understand this, and I truly feel for them.  For however many years I choose to work, I know Kyle will always be supportive, and not just for the money, because goodness knows there’s very little money in what I do.  In fact, I could make more money doing something else.  He respects that this is what I want to do.  There’s a big part of my life that I don’t have to explain; he’s been in the trenches and he just knows and appreciates.

And you know what else? Because of his years of subbing, a job that earned him no respect and virtually no money, I respect him more, too.  I know that my job is not something he’d ever choose to do, so he’s not like just anyone else, either. He’s not one of those jerks who thinks anyone could just walk in and do someone else’s job.  I thank my lucky stars for him and his experiences.  I think it takes a person who knows himself well to be able to try his hand at something and say, “I just am not able to make this work.”  Not because you’re CHOOSING not to, but because you don’t have what the job requires.

And that’s how I feel about Kyle’s job, too.

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