I’ve begun referring to my new situation as “the transition.” I recently quit my job teaching preschool after 10 years, and while it feels like I should be in the midst of some sort of crisis, I’m really just trying to finish something I started years ago. In December I will finally have my master’s degree in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction. Feels a little weird to have a degree in curriculum and instruction while not planning curriculum or instructing anything. That’s not really, true, of course – I’m spending part of the summer co-facilitating a graduate level writing course at UMKC and the other part of the summer re-writing an anti-bullying curriculum for the KCMO health department. So why, when people ask me the million dollar question, “What are you going to do now?” do I freeze up and tell them I don’t know?
Yesterday, while meeting the participants of the Writing Project’s summer institute that I’m co-facilitating, we went around the table introducing ourselves and telling the name of our school. When it came to me, I said, “I’m Kate Willaredt, and I’m unemployed.” I laughed about it and then quickly said, “wait. that’s not entirely true…” but mostly I just felt embarrassed. Though I will always consider myself a teacher, does being jobless suddenly devalue or negate that part of me? It feels somehow like it does. The truth is, I don’t really know, of course, what is to come. Who really does? It feels very self-indulgent and silly to take time to focus on the remainder of my degree. I’ve gone this far while working full time. But it has been super, super hard – and not just hard on me. Juggling a home, a family, a full time job and part time grad work has left me nearly unable to function – and nearly unable to give any one particular part of that equation very much of me.
I’m hoping that the next few months will lead to some serious reflection on where I want to go. I know the next adventure of working with teachers from all over the city will be an amazing place to start. Working with the SI this summer could not have come at a better time for me, I honestly would feel like it was a bit of divine intervention – if I believed in that sort of thing. Not having the safety net of a job to fall back on will not only be refreshing, it will most likely push me more quickly to figure out what I really want to do with my degree. In my heart and in my head I know exactly what I want to do, but it requires more time or money than I have as well as plenty of stars aligning for me. I’m going to keep working on that part. In the meantime, please don’t ask me what I’m going to do next. I simply don’t know. And that is wildly scary and exciting all at the same time.