This past year of experiment, with a full-time teaching job at a traditionalist school, has come to a curious conclusion. Results are mixed, and rather emotional. I wrote quite a few paragraphs of details, then decided to stick closer to the facts. I think the facts will be better for everyone.
Financially, the experiment was a success. Not only have I paid off all my debts, but yesterday I transferred money from my checking account to my savings account for the first time in at least ten years.
Personally, this experiment was a failure. I had hoped to find a healthy work-life balance and a long-term sustainable lifestyle. In fact, I worked more hours than ever, at what turned out to be the most stressful job I’ve ever had. I didn’t crack, but it was very close.
Pedagogically and culturally, it was a win, for which I credit my many mentors at One Spark Academy. My ’22 – ’23 school, The Buckley School, has a complex community. There is great joy and terrible sadness and everything in between – and an average mood somewhat less than okay. Transplanting some of One Spark’s community practices to my Buckley physics classroom, I think I was able to build some real warmth, and turn things around for at least some people, for at least some of the time. I am truly proud of this, and deeply grateful to both Buckley students and to the One Spark Community for their kindness.
Back in December, in my winter break, it was already clear that this new lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, and I began looking for a new job.
In March, I was faced with a startling dilemma: two job offers from two very different institutions, both much more closely aligned with my values. I accepted the offer from Art of Problem Solving (a.k.a. AoPS).
On Thursday June 1, I finished my last day of in-person time with students at Buckley. It was bittersweet. The following Tuesday, I began my new job as Life Sciences Curriculum Developer at AoPS.
Most importantly, this latest change means hope. Even in this first month, rather than gradually falling apart, I am slowly coming back together. Baby steps, but now in a forward direction.
The new job is overall positive. In material benefits, it offers a sustainable middle-class salary and a forty-hour work week. Such job features should be standard for everyone, but have sadly become a modern-day unicorn. Equally important, this job is good people – smart, kind, and with a shared mission to do education better. Many goals are commercial, but commercial with positive purpose. So far, I feel pretty good about it.
What then for Mindful Mammoth? I don’t know. My first priority is me. I aim to use evenings and weekends to cook and sleep and read and play games and play with Legos and go to Meetups and do physical therapy and recover mental and physical health. I will look to my own house first, and hope that when it is re-ordered, I can then be a more effective agent of positive change.
With the focus on rest and recovery, it no longer feels fair to keep the Patreon going as a subscription service. I won’t be using that money for the purposes for which it was originally intended, at least not for a while. And if I do resume design work, it may be more honest to keep it self-funded. Therefore, I’m pausing the subscriptions.
I will continue to post here, intermittently, at least for a while. Because I do still have big dreams of beautiful, science-y games. But the world is complicated, the future is a mystery, and so we shall have to wait and see what we can see.
Again, I am grateful. This was the hardest year I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t have made it without regular H&H time with friends (hugs and happy hour), without folks who fielded multiple panicked midnight phone calls, without you.