Mondays and Saturdays have the same feeling when you’re unemployed. Is it Tuesday? Or Thursday? Doesn’t matter. You can wake up whenever you want. I haven’t been in a preschool since last year (and that may have been the last time).
Job searching is my full-time job now. But the longer my search continues, my employment history and references become more dated. Plus there’s the accumulating rust of not working. It’s like my brain is becoming an old, rusty, rundown building of broken windows and cracked bricks.
If I want to look appealing to employers, I got to do something about it. Plus, I gotta keep myself from becoming a house bum. I can’t spend entire days in my pajamas, marathon streaming episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and How I Met Your Mother.
So, how can I keep the unemployment wear and tear at bay? How can I keep fresh and current at my practice while also projecting myself as a quality professional? Here are four tactics:
Read, Read, Read
I have stacks and stacks of books from graduate school. It’s the first time I didn’t sell any (though, I’m unemployed, so it’s crossed my mind many, many times). I’m glad I didn’t though. Still, how much do I remember from graduate school? To be honest, I read as much as I needed to pass classes. Still, I have the books and, in fact, I just finished one of them cover to cover… reading for fun. There was a lot of good information inside and – without the emotions and stress of pushing through the hurricane that is graduate school – I learned and retained a lot of the information this time around.
Now, you don’t have to be in graduate school to learn. Go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or even the library. Read up on your craft. Learn new ideas. I believe that the best teachers are, first, good students.
I recently became a member of my local NAEYC chapter here in Pittsburgh. I get emails, updates, and magazines in the mail. I especially like getting the magazine in the mail, because you get that “I got a gift in the mail,” kind of feeling. Then I dive into the reading and keep current on happenings in early childhood, pedagogy, activities, and other stuff.
I haven’t tried anything yet, but I know that when if I get a position at a preschool, I have some new ideas and tactics in the repertoire – a very encouraging feeling.
Attend Trainings and Workshops
Resumes don’t always cut it. I’m one of those people that, once you’ve known for a couple of months, you get what I’m about and understand how much I know. And it’s those relationships that really helped me find and acquire jobs.
However, back in January, I knew no one in Pittsburgh. So, how can I meet new people in the profession without cold calling early childhood centers asking for a tour or something? Workshops and trainings. These are great places to meet professionals. When I arrive, I’m able to introduce myself to new people, learn about schools and programs in the area, and find out who is hiring.
Additionally, let’s say you’re one of those who shine by showing what you can do. Well, there is no better place to put you’re skills and experiences to work than a workshop. I treat them as informal interviews. Rather than me tell you about what I know and what I can do, let me show you.
Play with Your Profession
Play? What do you mean play? What I mean is that you need to use your craft outside of your professional work. I wrote an article in the past about when I play with something, I’m more likely going to to remember it. The same concept goes for early childhood.
My play time is this blog. Blog = play. No one is forcing me to write this or share my ideas. And, sure, I could be looking for a job or doing something else, but playing with my craft helps me remember, reflect, and process my understanding and experience of the profession.
You don’t have to write a blog to play with your craft. Writing and blogging is merely one version of “play”. I’ve seen plenty of other people go deep into arts and crafts. Other’s like developing there own lesson plans, then sharing them with other teachers in binders or on the Internet. These are all forms of play: using your own time to take your knowledge, create and customize the way you want it, then producing a product – which could be the experience itself, something you can share, or, ha, a blog post.
To be transparent, my blog has been my biggest calling card during this time. For employers, it shows a couple of things: my dedication to the profession, my experience, and my uniqueness. Perhaps, one of them is reading this now?