Not About The Money

I lost my job yesterday. I work as a casual relief (substitute) teacher in a special education school. On Sunday, our state government announced that schools would be closed from Tuesday. It made sense. We were due to finish for two weeks of school holidays at the end of the week anyway so it’s only an extra four days. And I’d be happy to view it as that except that in the current environment, nobody actually knows how long this will last. Three weeks, six weeks, six months? It’s the unknown that gets to you.

Permanent and contracted staff will continue to be paid. Casual staff will not. I was booked in to replace a teacher for the whole week but that’s now ended. Should schools remain closed after the holidays, teachers will revert to the online provision of a program. How that works with high needs special education, I don’t know but what I do know is that online teaching will not require casual replacement teachers so there will be no work until the schools open again.

I’m luckier than others. I know that eventually, when this crisis is over, schools will reopen and my work will return. Others will not be so lucky as extended lockdowns send businesses to the wall. We’re also in a pretty solid financial position so we will survive the loss of income. I know I shouldn’t complain.

But here’s the thing – it’s not about the money.

I love my job. Work is my happy place. My students fill my heart and soul with joy and satisfaction. It’s the loss of this that has me feeling weighted down and my heart aching.

What will I miss?

I’ll miss

  • the utter joy on faces as I play my guitar and we bop along to I’m A Believer or Down On The Corner
  • the hysterical giggles when I sing all the funny voices for the different emotions in If You’re Happy and You Know it (angry and sad are favourites – that my students find my singing a song while crying as hilariously funny is slightly disturbing)
  • the literal tears of pride when a student achieves a learning goal for the first time
  • the cheeky and mischievous grins
  • finding that new way of doing something that means a student has a better day
  • the cheerful greetings as I walk around the school – as a CRT, all the kids know me and I know the name of every single one of them
  • working as a team with my Education Support co-workers, the true rockstars of special education
  • singing made up songs while pushing a swing to give a student with difficult behaviours a happy play time
  • all the feels – when my students are happy, sad, angry, upset, proud, unwell – they touch my heart so deeply

And I worry. I worry for the students for whom school is their safe space, the only place they receive what we call ‘unconditional regard’ and are nourished in body, mind and soul. I worry for the parents forced to give up work to care for their child every day and the financial impact of that and the lack of respite they will receive from the intensity it takes to care for a special needs child.

I know I am luckier than so many others but sometimes you just have to acknowledge that pain in your heart and what is causing it. I am grieving and the only thing that will fix it is a return to the job I love. It will come but it’s likely to be a long and challenging journey to get there.

How are you bearing up under the conditions imposed to combat COVID-19?

Stephen King quote on change

63 thoughts on “Not About The Money

  1. It is indeed sad times for so many, which you’ve done a wonderful job in explaining.
    The one hopeful thing I’m seeing in my part of the world are the many people who have reached out to volunteer as tutors.

    Hubby and I are considered to be in the more vulnerable age group. We’re still in Arizona, enjoying the weather and the relative ease of self-distancing in a warm climate where there are lots of retired people in the same boat. Our home country, Canada, has said we should return home – but we have chosen not to do that. Hubby’s years of working in a field where risk management was a priority – made us decide it was less risky to stay here than to return to Canada until spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds very sensible, Margy. I’m glad you’re keeping safe.
      Thanks for your encouragement about the post. It’s always hard to write something like this when you know others are doing it much tougher and not make it sound too “woe is me”.


  2. I am so sorry you lost a job you clearly love so much. You bring up such a great point about those children who come to school to be in their safe place. I have been watching a number of creative people coming up with creative ways to connect online, teachers included. Would there be any way you might be able to reach out to some of your students on a virtual basis and share some of the activities you mentioned? Just trying to be an outside the box thinker up here๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ. Sending you love & hugs my friend๐Ÿ˜˜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i have to agree about some kids having the safe space . I am a home care nurse( pediatric) and i can already see first hand the effect it is having on families. Tempers are flaring and stress/tension is high. Parents who have never had to spend this much time with their children are absolutely at their wits end. It’s nice when i hear of parents who are actually enjoying the extra time but it is not as common as one would think or like. We become conditioned by our circumstances and change is hard. I also know that some kids need the socialization so badly for many reasons- and parents struggle with entertaining and making sure education continues. It is s complex and all we can do is adapt as best we can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The children will miss you too. This is going to be a long road for all of us to travel. My daughter is a flight attendant and while her job is still secure at this stage, she is travelling daily with people who turn out to be positive to the virus a few days after they travel. It’s a worry.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Iโ€™m so sorry to read this โ€” for you and for the children. I understand the reasons, and the constraints that you have in relation to doing anything more for the kids, and I also know how sad and frustrated you must be feeling. Kia Kaha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Su. It’s hard when it happens so suddenly. I had the whole week planned, activities prepared and then bang, it was gone. I did put the activities into their take home packs so not wasted but it’s hard to be expecting to be at work all week and then be told ‘Don’t come Tuesday.’
      But it will return one day so I’ll just have to keep busy until then. I have some teaching resources I’ve been wanting to make for ages so now I’ll have time. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Stephen King was spot on, wasn’t he? Sad for you, H. A couple of people have mentioned videos and maybe you had a germ of an idea? I know you to be a resourceful lady and I’m sure you’ll find a way to use your spare time in a good way, even if you can’t contact these youngsters directly. Sending hugs, darlin! Hang in there! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sorry to hear this, m’dear. I mean about the loss of your work and the enrichment it brought to your life besides the financial.

    Judging by the comments, it sounds like you may already have a inkling of an idea of how to solve the problem – you are a genius at problem solving, Heather, – you’ll think of something.

    From my naive perch across the globe, it strikes me that surely to goodness exceptions can be made to the rules – compassion and common sense must prevail, yes?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m sorry to read this. I can understand why it happened but the impact of it is something more difficult to wrap my head around. Like the SK quote, life turns on a dime– but really must it? Couldn’t life turn on a larger coin so that things would happen more slowly and make more sense?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Donโ€™t hesitate to โ€˜โ€™whineโ€. Thatโ€™s what weโ€™re here for, and in your case, itโ€™s not really whining at all. Itโ€™s called grieving. You lost something precious and important to you. Yes, it may be temporary, but youโ€™re feeling the loss just the same.

    Be well, Heather.

    Liked by 3 people

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  11. Heather, I’m sorry that you have temporarily lost the joy in seeing your kids at school. It’s difficult to have to sit still when a job is so fulfilling for you. Like you, I worry about those without jobs, the small business owners that have to shut down their places, the poor that rely on free daily meals to sustain, and those that are will and fighting for their lives. But I have faith and hope that we’ll get through this crisis and be better for it on the other side.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m sorry to hear about your job Heather. Our son in law lost his job last week. Such upside down times where normal no longer has much meaning. I do think about those who don’t have safe spaces to go or the support of teachers like yourself. So much loss and hardship.

    Liked by 1 person

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