Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sometimes I Wonder Too

Recently, my knitting teacher sent me a blog entry in which a woman outlines why she quit teaching after a year. She wanted to know if it was really how it is.

Fortunately, she sent it at the beginning of the Thanksgiving break. It's always better to reflect on my career choice when one is not actually doing my career. Had I gotten the entry at the end of a work day, I might answer, "Yes!! And sometimes worse!!". Instead, I offer my rational, well thought response (please oh please read sarcasm).

I have felt every emotion that blogger felt. She talks about being swept up in teenage drama, insane scheduling and grading, classes overloaded with kids who need more attention than we can give, and parental scrutiny of our every move. It's all very true at different times (with the possible exception of parental scrutiny, it seems most often I have the opposite problem--which also makes for hard times).

When I first got this entry I thought it would be great to blog. As I turned it over in my head, however, it sounded so self important. "Yes, I teach! And it's worth it all at the end of every day!! I am changing the world!!". Eigh. Bah. I can't claim to be anywhere near that noble nor would I ever speculate that this blogger was anything less than a great teacher who just made another choice.

So what's the difference? Why am I still around? Some of it is just practical. I have an education degree and it's the job I knew I was qualified for. I don't have to be creative in relating my degree to some other job. No defending my skills. Here's my diploma and my certificate. Here's the activities I sponsor and some letters of recommendation. Hire me, please. Sometimes it sucks, but so does every job.

Sometimes I stay because of the breaks and the great opportunities they offer. I have outlined my passion for teacher nerd camps here over and over. Are there other jobs that allow me extended time to travel, reflect, and concentrate effort on improving my work? Nope. I figured that out when I worked retail and befriended lots of the managers. It's all in the manual, the corporate office tells us how to improve.

Now, I know that the law of the three point build states that this is where I put the paragraph about how they change me. I get kids smart enough to challenge me, kids who are hilarious and inspiring. Seeing them grow up is satisfying, too. Yep, this is that paragraph. Some kids take from me much more than they leave and most of the time, I only come out even. But at least once a year, some kid leaves me with just a bit more in the tip jar of my soul. In fact, I can point to the hardest times as when I didn't have those kids---just one "giver" usually makes the semester worthwhile.

I just reread that paragraph and made the vomit face, but it's true.


Obob said...

I've been in the business as an urban Middle School teacher for a five years a. I am able, most of the time to school at school, home at home, they do blur somedays, oh well. What I 'm getting at is I am at the last year of this school, catholic schools = low pay grade, and with a growing family I have to look at things a certain way. What really bites is I may be or may be in this business next year, Indy is a tough market now, but I am doing the best teaching yet. But my story is one of hundreds, and will told again. So to you friend, tell her thank you for the time and she won more battles than she may ever know.

McSwain said...

My cousin has started teaching elementary school after retiring from his career--as an officer in the military. He has 2 master's degrees, tons of life experience, but now he has a new light in his eyes. He told me, "After years of wreaking nothing but death and destruction, I get to do this!" It was like someone had invited him to life's biggest party.

educat said...

Inspiring as that is, "party" might be a stretch. I mean, the food is bad and the music undanceable, you know?

But yeah, it's good.