To Teach or Not to Teach. No, Really That’s My Question

…And your thoughts and feedback are both welcome and encouraged! When we arrived in Okinawa, I made a list of the goals I had for my time here. I love lists in every form, but this felt like the kind of list that should be made in a new journal with pink gel pen. (Unfortunately I only had my planner handy and a boring black pen in my purse, so I had to make do.)

The next three years are so full of pink-gel-pen-worthy possibility! I feel so blessed to have this unique opportunity to spend the first years of our marriage on the other side of the world with my best friend. Getting to do all of the things I always make excuses not to do back home.

The list included things like learning Japanese, finishing my book, getting certified in graphic design, perfecting my photography style, building a cake decorating portfolio, learning web design, etc.  I haven’t had an opportunity to do so much learning since college, and let’s be honest, there is no way I appreciated having that time back then as much as I will now.

The other, very high, priority for my time here in Okinawa was to get a job. I don’t do well with too much free time and we have always really appreciated having two incomes. Before arriving, I had made another little list in my head of potential job opportunities. There is a Tiffany & Co. on the island, which felt almost fate-like, given how much I loved my job in New York. There are a couple of marketing avenues through the Marine base, though no positions were listed at the time. Or… I could be a substitute teacher. There are dozens of DODEA schools on the island, and subbing would give me the chance to use that teaching certificate I worked so hard for and have never taught with. Plus I could work on my book and have time to pursue a side income with photography and cake decorating. I was absolutely in love with this idea.

The second week on-island, I walked into Bob Hope Primary School with my 40-page application filled out, a stack of teaching references, and orange earrings that matched my orange purse. (I thought that would be a nice touch.) I sat and chatted with the secretary as we went through all 40 pages, making sure that it had been filled out according to government policies.  DODEA doesn’t mess around.

For the next couple of days I ran around getting finger printed on one base, getting a background check at another. And then at the beginning of last week, the secretary called me. “Our principal looked over your application and was really impressed” she told me. (Read: You are a certified teacher and we need teachers more than we need subs).  I told her that as much as I loved the idea of teaching full time, I have a huge list of hobbies that I’m really anxious to get going on, plus a sewing machine that I haven’t really learned to use yet. (Okay, those were not my exact words, but I think she knew what I meant). I mentioned it to Dane later that evening while we were at the hardware store trying to figure out what we should build so that I could paint it.

Around 5:30 p.m. I got a second call. This time it was from the principal herself, and she had the assistant principal with her. I was immediately both flattered and impressed and really glad I’d taken the time to match my purse and earrings… as I am certain this played the biggest role in their decision to pursue me.

We talked for close to thirty minutes about everything the job entails and the class that I would be taking over: kindergarten, (I love kindergarten). We talked about my qualifications, I am reading endorsed and have ESL experience, all things she was looking for. We talked about the salary, about 1.5 times more than I would make teaching in Florida, plus our COLA (cost of living allowance) would double.

Suddenly, I was not so sure that I really needed to learn to sew after all. Rather than building anything that night, I sat down with a glass of wine, while Dane managed to hang our new bamboo window treatments and spent 3 hours filling out yet another application.

I’ve attached all of my documents, provided copies of my certificate and transcripts, listed phone numbers for all of my references. T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. Now I just have to decide if I really want to take on a kindergarten classroom in the middle of the year and give up my freedom to travel until June. Subbing is still an option, and every day I seem to be going back and forth. Feel free to weigh in, my loyal friends and blog readers! To teach or not to teach?


2 thoughts on “To Teach or Not to Teach. No, Really That’s My Question”

  1. What does your gut say? Do you feel any sadness when you sit – really sit – with the idea of not learning to sew/perfecting photography… all those things? If you do/don’t, I think that’s your answer.

    And then the other question is… you’re there for three years, yes? How long would the current teaching season be? You said it’s in the middle of the year. Can you change your mind in June about doing it again next year? My mantra is “all things can change,” so maybe doing it for this year would be fine if you have a reevaluation point already set up. 🙂


    1. You are absolutely right… When I think about teaching, I think, “Yeah I could do that for a time.” When I think about giving up the opportunity to travel and really learn the language, (not to mention sewing and photography) it’s devastating! I think I will consider it for next school year, but just spend this year subbing.

      Liked by 1 person

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