A Series of “First Dates”

I am on the job market.

And it sucks.

I am excited about the prospects I have and I am excited about potentially making the shift from high school English to middle school English. There is also an Experiential Learning job I am interviewing for today that has me really excited.

But that excitement is so short lived.

It has been a while since I have had to look for a job and know that I MUST get one. My family has become accustomed to food, clothes, electricity, etc. It isn’t that dire really. My husband is the bread winner–but we need 2 incomes like most families in America.

The job search is slowing breaking my spirit. I know it shouldn’t. I know I am an amazing teacher and that I just need to find the right fit. But rejection sucks. The going back over “why” am I not moving on. It feels an awful lot like “why doesn’t he like me?”

I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t move on in the process of my very first interview. I was nervous and made the mistake of being succinct in place of selling myself. I didn’t use all of my time wisely.  So, I learned. I got better with each interview—I think.

I have had 9 first interviews. Of those 9, I secured 3 second interviews and was notified by a 4th that I was not moving on.

Of these second interviews:

  1. I was notified that for 1–big city public district that I was moved into the recommended for hire pool.  This means that a building principal can select me for a building level interview. Still more waiting and possible rejection.
  2. I was notified by another that I am not moving on in the process. I was one of 4 candidates brought in for the 2nd round.
  3. Second interview is set up for first week of April

I am still waiting to hear back from 4. I know that I will not hear back from at least 3 of them until the first week of April.

But this is hard. It is hard because you don’t know what it is that made them decide to pass you over. Was it that I didn’t use the right words? Did I not explain something as clearly as I could? Do I sound too ambitious, too pleasing, too pushy? Was it given to an internal candidate and you were just part of the process? Was it really just not a good fit? Was it that your outfit wasn’t exactly right? Were they looking for someone with less experience? Were they looking for someone less socially activist?

And we never know.  We never get the answers to these questions. We just have to go on to the next interview and hope that something different happens. We just have to stop second guessing and be ourselves and be authentic.

That for me is the hardest part–not the being authentic (full disclosure–that is partly why I am looking for a new job. I had to be me and know that where I was wasn’t a fit). It’s the accepting that maybe my authentic self isn’t appreciated or understood.  That no matter my experience, my education, my dedication to student, I am not what they are looking for.

How do I accept that?




Teaching Something That Matters

I have to shake the dust off of this place. I’ve been absent and the cobwebs have fully taken over–both this space and my mind.  I have been consumed with teaching, learning, and parenting. My energy has been used to think and I am sad that my thinking (so much thinking) has not been written down–beyond tweets of 240 characters or less.

I started this post in April 2018 and here I am still working hard to teach something that matters. To make a difference in not just the lives of my students, but in the lives of the people they interact with.  That is a tall order.  I teach in an all-boys Catholic high school. Our demographics are 94% white and about 70% of our students are middle to upper-class. Our school tends to lean a bit to the conservative side.  I have been working over the last few years to disrupt the narratives my students have about others. They live in a pretty protected bubble of thought and it is important that they examine that thought before they move onto college, etc.

This semester I have decided to have my students listen to Scene on Radio’s Seeing White podcast. When I first listened to the podcast this past summer, I knew it was something that I wanted to include in my curriculum.  I just wasn’t sure how. I did a lot of thinking and contemplating and finally settled on listening to an episode a week (will fill our semester) and video responses via Flipgrid.  Scene on Radio has a curriculum guide that accompanies the podcast and I provide some of their questions as prompts to the video responses, to help guide students.

I will admit as the first responses are pouring in, that I am nervous. We aren’t a perfect school, but one of the main tenets of our school is Education for Service, Justice, and Peace.  I feel strongly as a parent, that we have to teach these values explicitly at times. I have also invited other faculty members in school to participate and several have expressed interest.  I feel it is important that my ideas aren’t the only ones that students hear.

I am pleasantly surprised that many students picked up on the idea of institutionalized racism and we’ll be doing some unpacking this week about racism (prejudice + power) and how that is entrenched in our founding and our institutions. We’ll talk about how “reverse” racism isn’t a thing and we will also be looking at logical fallacies.  After teaching logical fallacies, I am going to ask students to listen back to their first video responses and see if they used any fallacies–we had a lot of Straw man arguments happening as well as weak analogy and false dichotomy, and post hoc.

I am interested to see if they can recognize these fallacies in their own arguments, as well as the arguments that our politicians are making these days.

**edited to say that in January I resigned my position as the school and I were no longer a mission/vision fit. I am sad that I won’t get to see my students expand their thinking and be exposed to narratives that disrupt their biases.  But white supremacy requires the ignoring of history and there was a lot of resistance to my pushing of narratives that remind us of our White Privilege and how we have benefited from centuries of White Supremacy.

The Reality of 45

I don’t often feel my age.  Yesterday, I did.  It was more a combination of age and a couple years of laziness–but 45 is hard.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with exercise, etc.  I love the way it makes me feel; but to be honest, I have not made it a priority.  There has always been an excuse or something else in the way–dissertation to write (DONE), papers to grade (Never Done), kids to run around (TAXI).

But, I have always been able to get back on the train pretty easily.  This past summer it hit me when I did a bike ride with my bestie–we had done lots of bike rides–and I struggled in ways I hadn’t before.  My hips are older (and I don’t stretch like I should) and my age is catching up with me.

My age and the difficulty of getting back in shape was never more apparent than yesterday when I did my first 5k training cycle.  My daughter is doing Girls on the Run this year for the first time and she needs someone to run with her.  I thought this was just the motivation I needed to get off my expanding ass and start the long (VERY LONG) road back to health.

It sucked.  I use to be able to run (a little)–but my knees and hips are a bit more combative (they like being lazy). It didn’t help that I am battling some lung congestion; but let’s be honest that was the least of my issues.  I was supposed to run for 1 min and walk for 1.5 min, alternating.  Well–I was able to run for 30 seconds.

It was humbling.

It was one of the first times that I have really felt old.

It was one of the first times that I have come face to face with the fact that I have really let myself go.  I will not give up–I might need more Advil.  I will keep pushing and if I have to do that first day 4-5 times before I get up to the 1 minute of running than I will.  I will do it for me.  It will be great to run with my 3rd grader–but it will be more than that.

I didn’t think I’d ever finish my dissertation and I did.

Yesterday, I didn’t think I could do the full 25 minutes of running/walking and while it was sucky and I didn’t do as much as I set out to do–I did it.  I will do it again tomorrow.  I’ll teach my kids that no matter how hard something is you cannot give up.

Here’s to hoping 45 gets better.  But it’s hard.


The Light at the End of the Tunnel

I  defend my dissertation on July 12th.  The culmination of nearly 8 years of work (some of that time was spend processing how research will do what it wants).  Eight years of thinking about my work.  Eight years of writing.  Eight years of missing time with my kids and family.  Eight years of wishing I had more time to focus on my academic work.  Eight  years of wishing I could do it all, so much more quickly.  Eight years.

But now it comes to an end.  As I work my way through some final revisions, I can see the light at the end.

I know the time was worth every moment of guilt, frustration, and discovery.  I have changed and I look forward to what this next phase brings.  But Dawn Finley, Ph.D.  sounds pretty good right now.

120 Months


120 Months.

That number doesn’t even seem possible.  I don’t know how so much time has passed already.  With each day, I feel you growing up and slipping away.  I know you won’t every “go away.”  But, you’ll need me less and while there are times I welcome that separation–the inevitable growing up that happens brings with it a bittersweet sadness.

These days have been a magical ride and I am so lucky to get to be your mom.  Watching you grow into the boy you are (almost a young man) has been humbling.  You are funny, kind, sensitive, loyal, honest, and determined.  You are respected by your friends parents and the kind of kid others hope to have.  You do all of this because it is who you are–hopefully it is who we have helped shape you to be.

Your smile gets me every time.  Your laugh is infectious.  You know what you like and what you don’t.  I hope this resolve stays with you as the world will offer you many things that I hope you are strong enough to say no to.  You have a good head on your shoulders and it will lead you in the right direction if you listen to it and not to the suggestions of your friends.

I know that we are moving into the time of your life, where I have to start being a bit more cautious about where and what I let you do.  I’m glad that you are small for your age–that makes your brown skin less scary.  There will be times that I don’t let you do simple things, and I hope you understand that is because I want to keep you safe.  Your friends won’t always understand why there are certain things you have to be more careful of than they are.  Trust your dad and I.


Follow your dreams.  Leave it all out on the soccer field at every practice and game.  If you want to have a chance at your soccer dream–you have to be the hardest worker at every practice and in every game.  Listen.  Taking criticism is hard–but it is necessary. You have to trust that the coaches know more than you do.  Listen to what they are saying and think about how you can get better. Having someone give you a suggestion doesn’t mean what you did was wrong or bad–it just means there is maybe a better/different way.  Be open.  Understand it’s okay to not be perfect and not know everything.  You cannot get better if you don’t make mistakes.

Thank you for being an amazing son.  I can’t imagine what our life would be like without you.  Raising you is a privilege and I have loved every minute of it.

Happy 10th Birthday Noah.