My morning consisted of herding 11 8th graders (who have never had me as a teacher) to the neighboring college for a stream study field trip. Yes, I say herding because that's exactly how it is attempting to get that many hormonal 14 year olds to walk in the resemblance of a line. When you politely ask them to stay with the group, it is greeted with a glare and a long sigh, like you just asked them to solve a never-ending math equation. The field trip itself was incredibly interesting, but trying to milk some sort of enthusiasm out of strange bratty, angsty teens was exhausting, not to mention constantly asking them to be respectful of our terrified college student guides. Looking back, it was a bit amazing how they literally made everything into a sexual innuendo. Kind of like smaller Michael Scott's, with less comedy and more rudeness.
I've been a bit sad for the last week about leaving. Today made it easier. And tomorrow is my last day of teaching.
For over 24 years now, my life has somehow been bent around education. I started preschool and naturally made my way to the wonderful jungle of kindergarten. Upon graduating high school, I became a college student and unless you count those two spring semesters where I worked at seven different crazy jobs sporadically and drank my face off instead of taking classes, there hasn't been a break. Since preschool. And I've never had an August where I wasn't preparing to go back from summer break.
It's been this way my whole life: August is new clothes, school supplies, lists of newness, hope and renewal and excitement. Fall comes in with leaves and pumpkins and just enough college football. You work your face off til summer. You ride your bike and swim in the lake. Then you do it all over again.
Except now, one month before I turn 30, I'm being hurled towards the fact that in August, I won't be returning to school. I feel really uncomfortable about this: not in the way that I want to rethink this career shift, but more like there is a Tic Tac in my shoe that I can't quite shake out.
But things get to me. These things.
- Who am I if I'm not a teacher?
- What I've been working so hard towards for the past 6 years?
- I know I am a good teacher but am I decent at anything else?
- Am I still allowed to demand authority from K-12 kids who are acting like butt holes in public?
The countless staff members mean well, but their constant ploys to get me to stay breaks my heart. I would stay if I could, but I know I have to leave, for now. There are moments in your life that ask important questions that demand answers. And if I don't go now, I fear I never will. That doesn't mean it's any easier to walk away from Ms. Ronau.
And I naively thought it would be.
Some things make it easier, like the fact that they tried really hard to eliminate my position as a half time special ed teacher and successfully eliminated our paraprofessional job. That leaves 24 kids and counting to ONE full time sped teacher. I can't wrap my head around that. It makes me sick, confused, angry and reminds me why I need a little space from teaching.
If I do come back, it will be in a different state with a new outlook on education. It will be on my terms. I'm not sure yet if that is possible, but I guess we will see when I get to that crossroad. In the meantime, I will enjoy using the restroom anytime I want, never taking my work home and sweet, blissful 8 hour days. Somehow though, even after adding up all these perks, I know deep down that there may never be a job that can compete with the great parts of teaching.
I guess I'll have to find something to teach at the rec center. Puppets, anyone?