I love teaching. ….. At least, I did. Now, I’m not so sure.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to teach. I was made to teach.
I am now in my 11th year as a teacher, and something in me has changed. I have the opportunity to work outside of the classroom every other day, and it is hard to get myself back in the classroom.
Although I still have a love for teaching and students, I enjoy getting away from the life sucking elements that come with the teaching profession:
1. Institutional Living
I can use the restroom before 8:55 a.m., between 10:24-10:31 a.m., between 10:38-11:05 (before or after shoveling my lunch in… and yes, my lunch starts at 10:38 a.m.), between 12:35-12:42 p.m., and 2:10-2:17 p.m., then anytime after 3:45 p.m. That is, I can go the the restroom during those times if I do not have students staying after class to talk, I have moved myself and all my materials to the next classroom, everything is set up ready to start the next lesson, and the bell has not rung. My poor bladder.
Sunshine? What is that? Two of my blocks are taught in rooms without windows, and the other two are in rooms with only one window, which has the shade pulled down when I arrive because the other teachers are trying to keep students focused on the lesson not a bird flying by the window.
I love working with kids; I don’t love eating, peeing, and breathing on a schedule. On my off days, I have learned to really appreciate the freedom to use the restroom, have lunch, look out a window, etc. whenever I feel like it.
2. Tedious and Terrible Tasks
The days are scheduled to the minute, and every free second before and after school is spent planning lessons, grading papers, photocopying, stapling, emailing, calling parents, and attending meetings…. There are no free seconds.
Don’t even get me started on professional development- if I hear about Bloom’s Taxonomy at one more workshop….ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! I LEARNED ABOUT THIS FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE! Good thing policy makers think the answer to educational problems is professional development workshops. We are presented the same information we learned in college 95% of the time. Please, make it stop.
Then there is the task of administering all the wonderful standardized tests. We are in a room where we are not allowed to look at the students’ computer screens, but must monitor the students. We can’t read, grade papers, talk, sleep, breathe… okay we can breathe. The point is, for about two hours of our precious time, we are required to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is beyond life sucking.
If my days were just spent creating the lessons and teaching them, I would have the greatest job ever. Well, that combined with having a little freedom in my schedule…then it would be the best job.
3. Dealing with Discipline
Students are great. I love them each individually. One of my very favorite things about teaching is the time I spend getting to know the students. They make me laugh, they inspire me, they challenge me, and they can keep me up at night worrying about them.
However, it can be tough some days to be around them. Sometimes I am tired and they are tired, and they have experienced something awful outside the classroom… and life just isn’t going great. So… now try to get them to focus on a lesson without disrupting everyone else’s lives.
Most years and most days discipline is a rare issue… but sometimes you get a whole classroom of kids who have way too many distractions in their lives, and they make your job extremely hard.
I know they would have fun and learn something at the same time if they could just pull it together, but these kids can’t see past the immense piles of junk clogging their paths. I feel for them, but I get tired too. I wish I didn’t, but I do.
There are days I dread entering a classroom because I know the students in that particular group have way more to deal with than I can take on that day. I would love to be able to take each of these kids home and show them what family can be.
Truthfully, there are days I don’t want to try to teach them Spanish. I just want to help them cope with life. This isn’t an option though; there is a pacing guide that doesn’t account for the lives in front of me.
Don’t get me wrong. Teaching is a great career. Every day you have the opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life by showing them love, grace, acceptance, etc. There is fun in creating new, engaging ways for students to learn the material. Plus, other than administering standardized tests, there are very few dull moments.
I am really surprised by how much I am enjoying life outside of the classroom. I used to think there was no better place to spend my days.
It may be that I don’t have the stamina it requires to be on point every minute of every day anymore, or it could be that new passions and new dreams are pulling me from the teaching profession. Whatever the cause, I confess, I really enjoy a chance to get away from the classroom from time to time.
Thank God for Christmas break. How many days left until spring break?