I have been having some revelations of sorts these past two weeks. For the first time in a very long time, I have felt a lot more at peace with coming to these understandings and realizations about my career, which identifies me not only as who I am, but also my role in life.
I absolutely love teaching. It's so fun watching kids' lightbulbs turn on, master things, get excited, make friendships, and generally develop as human beings. While this is nowhere near a comprehensive list, most teachers will be nodding their heads in agreement. After all, these are just some of the few reasons why people become teachers and educators in the first place. They want to make a difference in the lives of children. Many feel that being a teacher is their "calling in life," and I'm one of them.
Unfortunately, being a teacher has taken a tumble for the worst in the past years, and I have watched it before my very eyes. Teachers in every state in the US are being asked, even required, to take on the most taxing tasks. Many good-hearted and well-meaning teachers take on even more than these to benefit the lives of the students, parents, the surrounding community, other teachers, and so forth. Honestly, I do not know of ONE teacher that does not go above and beyond all professional and contractual duties as outlined. Not one. Not even the "bad" ones. I've seen them go above and beyond, too. This is with time, money, brains, lack of sleep, continually trying to figuring out what to do with a student or several who may be suffering from one difficulty or many, talents, and the list goes on. While this is not always a bad thing, like I said previously, it's very taxing. But on top of all of this normal "call of duty," there are things required by school districts or legislatures that are harming teachers as they slop more on their plates, which is a very long list, and I don't care to or find necessary to discuss in great detail at this point. Just know that they get to be both cumbersome and burdensome.
If you compare the length of the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs, you will easily notice that the scales are already tipped out of the teachers' favors. It's becoming more and more this way, as well.
These feelings of frustration really resonate with teachers (at least me, and some others I know, as well) when they are stressed to the max. There are comics about teachers being overworked, and underpaid. And when these feelings resonate with you, you start questioning them. Especially when you hear all the seasoned teachers talk about the ridiculousness that's pouring through the cracks. (And venting to other teachers is a stress-reliever in itself, so LOTS of this talk goes on.)
How can you be a good teacher when so much energy is being sucked out of you by the demands of your job? (It's hard. Teachers lose it sometimes. Can't always blame them.) When you feel vulnerable, you think about these vulnerabilities later.
So far, my time in the "chokey" has been quite meager compared to many others, although this is not by choice. It's been almost a year since I've taught (aside from a few sub jobs this spring, which I found out is not my favorite- I guess I like control of the reigns), due to the fact that we've moved to two states in a matter of about 6 months. I did get licensed in both states, and even had interviews, but I didn't get the jobs.
Since I've had about 10 months to sit and reflect upon teaching, I have forged a long journey, without even knowing it, maybe even until now, and no doubt it will continue. As I sit back and reflect, I'm amazed at what changes have occurred.
I am fairly certain that all majors in college/university are fed a little bit or a lot of "propaganda" to encourage positive feelings and promote the benefit of society. All jobs are important to society, even (and maybe especially) if we don't know they're going on. Apparently I am especially susceptible to said propaganda, given my feelings of guilt toward the thought if I ever leave teaching. (That's not a joke. The things we learn about ourselves.) Then there's the fact that I'm a "people pleaser," and the other fact that "teaching runs in the family." (That's a saying among many teachers, and it runs true on both sides.) So basically, if I ever seriously considered leaving the teaching field and going into something else, I'd have strong feelings of guilt, letting people down (including those who don't even know me, probably), knowing how poorly people think of me, and the fact that despite everything I tried to do to avoid it, now I'm a "statistic." Oh, and I completely turned my back on my calling in life. (Now what am I going to be good at? I will never excel at anything. Did I let God down?) Plus there are all of these stories about professional_____-turned-teacher.
As you can see, I might need to work a little bit on the positive vs. negative self-talk and over-active imagination. (At least I minored in psychology, so that I can be fully aware of these things.)
We are all statistics for about a mazillion things, so this is one hurdle that I only identify with because it feels personal. This, I think, I can get over. Eventually. Given the amount of time I've had away from teaching, I have explored these confused feelings a lot more than while I was teaching. (You might self-destruct as a teacher if you entertain these for too long- remember how much stress I said is involved? You'd be a ticking time bomb.) So, back to exploring these feelings and ideas about what would happen if I "left" teaching? This time has been good for me to do some soul searching. I don't have kids yet, but when I do, being a full-time teacher will interfere with our family life at times. That's a given. And I REALLY don't want that to happen. There will be times when I have to do report cards or finish writing some type of report or another when my kids would rather go to the swimming pool as a family. Or I have to stay at school until 8:00 PM three days in a row and my kids don't get to see me before they go to bed. There are countless possibilities- just ask another teacher. That is my first concern. My second concern is how much it takes away from my quality of life (due to being overworked and high "stresshold") as a human being, social creature, and family-oriented woman. And I only fear it's going to get worse. Sometimes my mom, who is also an elementary teacher, declares "I'm too old for this." (Which, technically, she is, given the fact that her youngest child is 14.) My third is a fear of betraying myself and others if I do leave.
I often tell people that maybe they probably shouldn't go into teaching because it's pretty bad right now and it's only going to get worse. I also think that in order for it to be better, a lot of teachers are going to have to leave/not enter the teaching field. And do I REALLY want to be one of THOSE people? After all, I do absolutely love teaching. Just not all the other crap that comes with it.
Last week, I came to a conclusion that ultimately, whatever I do, the most important thing is supporting my family in the best way possible. That means taking care of myself, husband, and future children mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and monetarily if necessary. If I do this, I will not be letting anyone down. No matter what I do, I will still be a valued daughter of God who is an asset to society. This was a breakthrough for me!!!! Although this was a breakthrough, I wasn't resolute in this feeling yet, and still kept going back and forth a little bit.
This week, someone I graduated with posted something on Facebook about a teacher with a PhD who decided to resign from teaching soon after her daughter was born. It was in these moments that everything aligned for her to see clearly (and I'm guessing she'll probably be homeschooling her daughter and subsequent children, if there are any- just a guess, though). As I read the article and resignation letter and commented on it, my own focus came a little clearer, backing up the feelings I initially had last week. Then another thing was posted relating to football. A comment with the posting made mention that loyalty in any profession doesn't pay. As I read that comment, the logic in the statement that the same for any profession is true hit me. And I scrolled past, but I went back to the article. I didn't have to read very far to get the full message I've been missing for so long in my own life. The article reports that Deion Sanders made two statements. 1-) "It's hard for me to fathom that I gotta be loyal to you, when you're not loyal to me." 2-) "I can't love nothin' that can't love me back."
I'm not saying I am full out hands down leaving the teaching profession here. I haven't made that decision yet. However, I am now open to the possibility of other career paths that may allow me to maintain my family (including myself) in a more healthy manner. And I'm in a good place where I have both options available. I'm currently looking for work and licensed to teach in my current state, but since I don't have a job, I can pretty much look in many areas. Also, I'm not even really considering homeschooling (I don't think that's necessary given that I don't have children, and other reasons, too). But I can still be me by doing other things. And for a while I've been pondering the idea of doing graduate work in School Psychology. (Again, working at a school, or having a higher workload, but more opportunities in other places as well, and higher pay. Plus, I think this is beneficial to my once again mentioned future children.) I am really happy with this realization that I can do whatever I want to do, even though I still went to university, graduated, and started my career.
There's probably more I can say, but I think here is a good place to leave it unless there are a thousand questions people ask me. Which does not usually happen since I'm not a famous blogger and probably most people won't read through this whole thing. So, I'll let you read other articles now (like the ones I mentioned, if you feel like it). And watch the video I'm including, because it's a good one, too.
Link to article about PhD teacher resigning. Make sure to read the actual facebook post. (I actually read it from a different site, but I feel that this source is less likely to be mangled with in the age of ever-changing online internetting stuff, ie get taken down or deleted for some reason.)
Link to "Loyalty Doesn't Pay." (The one about Football...)