My Unemployed Life: Just Let Me Teach Again, Please?

unemployed My name is Amanda, I am 30 years old and for the last 18 months I have been unemployed. In my previous life, the one where I had a job with great benefits, I was a high-school English teacher.

I taught for six years, blissfully unaware of just what happens when you lose the stability of a paycheck. I lost my job due to cutbacks. No one told me that the recession would affect the entire nation, especially my state of Michigan, so profoundly. My school district was in a deep financial hole and when that happens, teachers lose their jobs. And I lost mine.

So I started on my journey of finding a new job. I had no idea or understanding that I would be still unemployed a year and a half later!

Doing everything right

When I first lost my job I took all the most obvious steps that everyone in my situation takes. I signed up for unemployment, put my resume on countless online job-hunting websites and put the word out there to everyone I knew that I was looking for employment. Obviously these tactics have not worked.

I have been receiving unemployment insurance thanks to numerous extensions. I cross my fingers daily that they pass another extension. Even with the unemployment benefits, making ends meet has been rough. My benefits aren't enough to pay my monthly bills. Now I am not a person with huge amounts of credit-card debts or extraneous expenses that need to be paid. We are talking just the basics here: mortgage, car and insurance, phone, water, gas / electric and groceries. That's it. No shopping sprees or trips to the Caribbean, just your plain old average bills.

Sinking from the stress

Since there just wasn't enough money to go around, I had to ask for help. Since my unemployment my dad has been paying my car and insurance payments. I've had to borrow money at different times for unexpected expenses like repairs. The stress of scraping by financially has been more than I can bear at times. I've cried more times than I can count, I'm pretty sure I've gone through some serious bouts of depression and I've turned into a hermit.

I've pulled back from friends and family, because most days there is just too much to deal with. I can't answer one more question about my job search or my money situation. I can't listen to one more corny line that tells me, "Well, something good is bound to happen since you've already hit bottom." In terms of coping with the stress and overwhelming pressure of the situation, I can honestly say I haven't dealt with it well.

When I try to think back over these many months on how many jobs I have searched out, applied for, and waited hopefully to hear back on, I've lost count. I have applied for hundreds of jobs. Out of these submissions I've had two interviews. Two. Most times when I send a resume, I never hear from that company again. Not a "Thanks but no thanks," or a "We've decided to go with someone else" -- nothing.

That would have to be one of the most frustrating aspects of this. You spend the time searching for jobs, going through the extensive online application process, tailoring your cover letter and resume to fit the job and then you send it off into oblivion and never hear about it again. Trying to contact the company to follow up is impossible. No one has time for you. But what choice do I have? I have to find a job and this is how it works. So every day I start the process over again and hope that today will be the day that something changes.

Being a better mom

I can honestly say that this experience has given me an opportunity. It has made me a better mom. When I was working, I would come home exhausted after dealing with kids all day. I had very little left to give to my own son. I am a single parent and it all falls to me. I would scrape together dinner, try and focus to help with homework and then count the minutes until I could get some sleep. All that has changed.

Now I make my son breakfast each morning and talk to him about his day. I get to drive him to school each day, a task I have never been able to do. It was always me rushing to get ready, then dropping him off at his grandparents, so I could make the long drive in to work. Nowadays, I also get to be a part of school field trips, sporting events, volunteer activities. I used to spend my days devoted to other people's kids. For a change I can focus solely on mine. So while these 18 months have been incredibly hard to manage, they've also been a blessing.

Being unemployed has really changed me as a person. On the positive side of things, I am a more attentive parent. But honestly, that is the only positive to come from this. I have become more cynical and pessimistic. I used to be a happy person who didn't let anything get to me. I wish that were true now. Nowadays, I have a tendency to always look for the negative. I assume things will turn out badly and I cry at the drop of a hat.

And the worse part about it is that I'm internalizing all of this. I don't want to burden people any more than I already have. So I deal with the emotional fallout alone and have allowed it to bury me. I am not the same me. That is hard to admit. I feel like I have lost a lot in this. I wish I knew what to do to change all of this, but I am at my wit's end. And unfortunately there is no end in sight.

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I would move out of Michigan, but not to Nevada

August 28 2013 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If any high school English teachers out there want a one-time editing job, please contact: ASAP. Editors will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis for ten cents per page and they will get their own "about the editor page" if the book gets published. The book is an easy read for most adults, as it is written at about the level of a high school student or intelligent middle school student. Interested? Send me an email at

July 09 2012 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you want to stay afloat in the longer run, you need to seriously consider starting and running your own business. Maybe even a tutoring business? Supporting yourself directly is risky, sure, but nowadays, so is grovelling to a multitude of uninterested companies in competition with millions of others. And at least you'll be at the mercy of your own efforts and ideas, not at the whim of a cost-cutting manager somewhere. Take some of the time now from job searching and cover letter writing, maybe an hour each day, and brainstorm and research possible business ideas, or maybe look into franchises. Looking for a job these days by sending out resumes by the bucketload, hoping that a company out there will support you is not the best method to get ahead. It used to be perhaps, but I think those days are done.

February 03 2011 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I understand that Salem ,Or. is looking for teachers to replace retirees.
Pay starts at only $46,000. , but Salem is a great place to live.

February 02 2011 at 11:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh boohoo. Maybe you should do what other people do ... take a job that is "beneath" you. My husband lost his job and we ended up taking another job 2600 miles away. When that one went bust 20 months later, we got help from family and moved back home. We certainly didn't have the money ... we used what little we had to move to where the job was. Now my husband has started a new career driving big rigs cross country. I see him every 60+ days. I work part time. I seem to have a deficit when it comes to going up against people right out of college. I have as much ... and in some cases more ... education as them, I have more work experience then them, but I am over 50. They want young, aggressive, start at the bottom, know you will leave in 3-5 years for greener pastures. I don't qualify. I have been certified as a teacher in KY (secondary), MS (primary) and I tested out in CA to get K-12 certified. I moved to a new state and I didn't have enough qualifications to teach there ... I needed 2 or 3 more classes at that state's university or college. Due to my husband's previous business going bust across the nation, he started a new career. Oh, and he has 2/3 of a master in business too. No one owes you anything. If teachers ... who don't work 3 months out of the year as it is ... can't find a job after being let go, maybe they are being overpaid to begin with. And the people above them are even worse. I think the phrase my dad said when I wanted to become a teacher, was "those that can do, those that can't teach." I taught, and then moved on. I wanted to teach and discovered I spent 70% of the time disciplining students and worrying about being "politically correct" in the classroom and out. I wondered why parents didn't concern themselves with their child's behavior as much as the reading the original version of "Doctor Doolittle" that used the "N" word twice in the whole book. It was written at the turn of the last century for goodness sakes. What I have discovered is that I can do lots of other things rather then teach. They don't pay as well, or have the benefits, but I contribute to society in a more productive manner ... something tangible ... then just being an overpaid babysitter for seven hours a day, nine months of the year. I think there are great teachers out there. They are well worth every penny they are paid. But like every other industry, there is a lot of dead weight being paid for with tax dollars. I don't like the merit system because it is set up by people who never deal with the job of a teacher. I watched a teacher become Teacher of the Year in our state one year and not even get nominated the next. He was an excellent teacher who got caught in the "merit" mess. I was an excellent tutor, turned people away because I didn't have enough time. Teaching was not for me. It took me a while to discern why. If the person in this article is skilled and educated she will find a job. It may not be the teaching position she left, but there are no guarantees in life. Your education and training aren't guarantees either.

February 02 2011 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Teachers are grossly overpaid. In Ca. average salary is $70,430. ,per NEA,plus free medical, and retire at 55 with $44,000. pension, with cost of living increases.

February 02 2011 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ron's comment
Tommy Tate

We all don't live in California!

February 02 2011 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
S. Schmidt

I sympathize with you. About 3 years ago, I was out of a job and was working at Starbucks, Target and later a part time job with my dream school district. It was rough.
One of the things I considered doing was to start a day care for teachers. Teachers want their 3 and 4 year olds to go to pre-k, but where I live,they can only do so if they are economically disadvantage or if English is not their native language (or if they go to a private school which most teachers are unable to afford). It may require a license, but if you love kids, it could be an option.
Another option is tutoring to help you get by in the meantime. Especially being that you were a high school teacher, it seems like that would endable you to work both pre-college kids and beginning high school kids. Maybe even something along of the lines of consulting on college application essays. Not to replace your job search, but to supplement you as you search for your next full time job with benefits. I wish you the best of luck, and hopefully not much longer of a wait.
Finally, would you consider on-line teaching? I saw some ads for that when I was doing my job search, and did not meet the qualifications because I am not a high school teacher. Some kids study from home online. Maybe this could be an option, and then you could keep your time with your son :)

Best wishes :)

February 02 2011 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To Elizabeth Siegel, Can you read? She did not say no MORE shopping sprees or trips to the Caribean. She said no shopping sprees or trips to the Caribean. As in ,she never did those anyway.
People are so quick to say that a person out of work should have spent less and saved more. While I know for sure that many people ran up too much credit card debt and bought houses with 100% financing,that is not EVERYONE'S story.
Let's be honest here. Even if you are a saver,as I am. How many middle class working people have enough LIQUID savings to pay their living expenses for 18 months? Even with unemployment? I spent my years from age approx 20-40 reading everything I could to arm myself financially. Experts said 3-6 months of living expenses in emergency cash were recommended. So what happens when my "12"!!!! month ememrgency cash is gone and I still haven't landed a job??? Get your head out of your as* people. The government and banks are responsible for what is happening to Americans.NOT hard working Americans.

February 02 2011 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tommy Tate

Most of you are all full of shi! The reason teachers are losing their jobs is because there is not as much taxes coming in from all the lost blue collar(some union)jobs that went to China for slave labor by greedy millionaires that own the companies. Even white collar jobs have been lost to India and other low paying third world nations. Americans cannot work for these poverty wages because our prices in the US are not based on slave child labor. We will never see jobs in this country because of it. So go ahead and laugh, your day of unemployment is coming soon, sucker!

February 02 2011 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

elizabeth siegel said...

wow, no more shopping sprees or trips to the caribbean? not a bad life for
a single parent.

I believe that you need to go back and read the article again. She stated that she did not go on Caribbean cruises or wild spending sprees, that she had just regular expenses ie., Mortgage, Car, utilities and did not have a large amount of credit card debt. It does not say she that she had gone on the cruises or engaged in wild spending sprees either while employed or on unemployment. Please work on your reading comprehension. It will make you look more educated.

February 02 2011 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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