When I started this blog, I was sitting in St. Louis, Missouri amid boxes. I had walked away from an excellent position at a high school to join my husband three states away. I had committed to at least several months of unemployment to get a firmer grasp on my health condition — to evaluate my needs and assess my capacity to take on a new position. That was eight months ago.
I was able to make it a couple of months without applying for any jobs. I got acclimated to our new home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I made friends, I joined a Bible study and a gym, I took on some small projects, I binge-watched some Netflix, and I blogged.
Once I started applying for jobs, that became my job. I applied to be a library assistant, a customer service representative at my gym, a tutor, a proofreader, a teacher’s assistant, a director of an educational program at the University of Michigan, a desk receptionist at a child development center, an airline employee, and who knows what else.
In December I created a profile on a tutoring website called Wyzant. Through that website I have met and tutored a dozen students around the Ann Arbor and Detroit area. I have loved interacting with these students — joining them on their educational journey and moving them on to the next step.
I’ve been tutoring about 6-8 hours a week. And, I’ve continued to apply for jobs; I’ve even had a few interviews. In November I had my first interview at an alternative school for students who have for a variety of reasons not been able to go the traditional path through high school to graduation. At this school, they use computer-based instruction to complete their high school requirements and get a diploma. I loved the program and the staff, but the timing was wrong. I had committed to stay home until January and they wanted me to start immediately. No way, my son was soon to be home on leave for two weeks. After that would be the holidays. Thanks, but no thanks.
In February I had an interview at a publishing house. I spent an hour reading copy and making proofreader’s notes only to receive notification, before I even made it back home, that they had “gone in another direction.” OK, that’s fine. It was a bit of a drive, anyway.
I spent a few days training and testing to become an online standardized test grader. I was to spend March grading math story problem answers written by third through eighth graders in Wisconsin. I’m still waiting for the go-ahead on that project. It seems their timeline was a little off.
So, between tutoring gigs and while waiting for scoring opportunities, I poked around a bit on Indeed and Craigslist. A few weeks ago I found a posting for “clinicians/tutors” for a company called Lindamood-Bell. Never heard of them. The word ‘tutor’ caught my eye so I clicked on the link that took me to their website. The words “research-based”, “twenty-five years”, and “student improvement” caught my eyes. I read a little more. They were willing to provide eighty (yes, 80) hours of paid training to tutors/clinicians in order to staff their Ann Arbor facility for the summer. Well, I thought, tutoring will probably decline in the summer. My husband still has to work. What else was I planning on doing? So, I threw my name in the hat.
Within a couple of hours of submitting my resume I had an email inviting me to a “screening interview”. This interview would take two-four hours and would require me to take a spelling test and a test of reasoning. I would also learn and practice one of the Lindamood-Bell strategies. Again, I thought to myself, “Well, I don’t have anything else scheduled for that day…” So, Tuesday morning of this week I got up, showered, put on some professional attire, and drove myself across town for a 9:00am interview.
The center is located in a large office building, on the second floor. I found the door and read the sign, “Please ring door bell.” I rang. A cheery young woman answered the door and said, “Hi, I’m Kat.” I introduced myself and she showed me to the interview room. Three small tables were set up with two folders on each table. One of the tables already had a college-aged man sitting and filling out an application. I was instructed to do the same. We were soon joined by another middle-aged woman.
A presenter introduced himself as the director of the center. He outlined our morning and got started. He first told us the firm policies of the organization — professional attire, strict adherence to attendance and punctuality expectations, and no week-long vacations in July or August. “Anyone want to leave now?” he said. We all stayed. Then he gave us a spelling test. Twenty-five words of increasing difficulty. By the time we got to word twenty-three I was guessing and second-guessing myself. We were then given five nonsense words to spell to determine our ability to use phonetic reasoning. Then, we were handed a ScanTron form and a test booklet. We would have thirty minutes to complete this test to determine our ability to draw conclusions, make inferences, and employ reasoning skills. After thirty minutes, my brain was about fried.
We took a short break, and then were shown one of the strategies that Lindamood-Bell uses to teach reading comprehension. We had time to practice with current clinicians. During the practice time, I was pulled into a different room for an interview. Just a few quick questions: What are my strengths? What do I want to learn? What would I do in this situation or that? Would I like to work part-time or full-time? A little more teaching practice and I was out the door.
Later Tuesday night I told my husband about the interview, and the strategy, and my interest in what Lindamood-Bell was doing. Wednesday morning, after breakfast, I practiced the strategies with my daughter. I could tell I was excited about what this program could do for kids. I could tell I wanted this job.
I went to Bible study and told the battalion about my interview. Then I went to lunch with friends and told them more. I knew that if I was offered the job I would be forced to evaluate an exchange. Would I be willing to trade my time in Bible study for this experience? Would I be willing to spend two full weeks — forty hours each week — in training? Would I be willing to work five days a week?
I drove home and checked my email. I had a message from another employer — could I please complete a few more steps in an application to move myself further into the hiring process. I quickly did the few steps. Right as I finished, just a few minutes after I’d walked in the door, my phone rang. It was Kat.
What did I think of the interview? Would I be willing to accept a job as clinician?
I about leapt off my chair. Yes!
Can I start training on April 6? Yes!
Can I start working part-time on April 20? Yes!
I hung up the phone and jumped for joy.
But as the night wore on, some worries started to creep in. Do I really think I can do forty hours of training for two weeks straight? What about the students I tutor? Maybe I won’t like it. What if I go back into soldier mode — kicking butts and taking names?
Breathe, Kristin, breathe. One step at a time. I don’t have to know every detail to turn the page in this next chapter.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God will [carry you] wherever you go.