Leaving Teaching

18 Aug

I’m not going to be a teacher anymore.

…That feels a bit strange (but right) to write.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the strangeness of leaving teaching for a few weeks — ever since a new Student Services position opened up at my school and I ran into my campus head’s office shouting, “I want that job!” and she said, “no you don’t,” and I said, breathless and gross from all the running, “OH YES-UH.” *breath* “I-UH.” *breath* “DO-UH.” *breath*

So I went through the official channels — sending in a resume, filling out an application, having some interview-esque meetings where I was questioned again and again about why I wanted to move from faculty to staff. “Your evaluations are so positive!” they said. “All the students love you so much!” (Overstatements, to be sure, but lovely ones to hear nonetheless.)

Actually, I had only realized the real why a few days before the new position was posted, but I was initially convinced that my only problem was my schedule. You see (ugh, I hate “you see” as a transitional phrase; pretend that never happened), my school has an accelerated curriculum that caters to working adults in which I have four different sets of students in four different classes changing every five weeks where most often I work a split shift of four hours of teaching in the morning, followed by a five-hour break, and then another four hours of teaching in the evening. (That’s a lot of four and fives and sets and splits, so suffice to say it’s not a good schedule for eating meals at regular hours, sleeping recommended amounts, or seeing my family. It is, however — betcha’ve never heard this from a teacher before — exhausting.)

So in my mind it was the schedule’s fault — it was the schedule, the schedule, the schedule for why I felt so down so much of the time, for why I cried during the afternoons because I just wanted to see my husband since I hadn’t gotten to have an extended conversation with him in days, for why my reaction to anything minute that went wrong (I forgot my coffee on the kitchen counter, a student was rude, the copier was left jammed) felt disproportionately jarring for what should just feel like a minor annoyance. There was this ever-present cloud of dread and ennui and blah-ness that hadn’t gone away in months. I found it ridiculously difficult to do anything productive during the long breaks; my plans of working out, doing a load of laundry, and making a healthy dinner turned into falling asleep with my contacts in to a Gilmore Girls DVD.

But it wasn’t the schedule –it isn’t the schedule — it never has been the schedule that’s responsible for the why.

My husband was the one who pointed it out to me, actually, during the aftermath of yet another breakdown. “It’s not the schedule that’s making you miserable,” he said gently, as I was pre-, post-, or mid-cry. “It’s teaching.”

And all of the sudden, everything made sense.

I could feel the cloud starting to thin out in that moment — the moment when I realized teaching was not something I could or wanted do for the rest of my life. The why is because ultimately, I just don’t want to teach anymore.

And what has been so strange to me about that is the strength of the cultural narrative surrounding teaching. It is such that it made any thought of my quitting teaching taboo to have — nearly unthinkable, really. For almost ten years, I’ve taught part- and full-time in public elementary and secondary schools, abroad, or at the college level, and I’ve always ended up feeling the same way: burnt out, devoid of energy, struggling to do anything except teach. I thought switching my teaching context was the answer; I thought I’d eventually find my niche and it would be perfect and I’d stay there forever. After all, teachers make all other professions possible! It’s not the filling of a pail but a lighting of a fire! Teachers affect eternity: they never know when their influence stops! Plus, I know I’m good at it! Who could think of walking away from that?

I can. And I am. (But I don’t mean to be overly dramatic about it — I just find it fascinating and odd that telling someone you don’t want to be HR anymore, for example, would seem to be a completely different experience.)

I think what it comes down to is that, as an introvert, it takes a lot out of me to be with people all the time — more than I allowed myself to realize. I put everything I have out there when I’m in front of a class. I care about people and I care about education and I care about my subject matter too much to not give it my all. But teaching shouldn’t be about self-sacrifice, and being “on” for more than eight hours a day is just that — for me. I need to save some of myself for my marriage, for my life — for me.

Last Thursday, I was officially offered the Student Services position, and I accepted. Next week will be my last week teaching. And I’m already feeling like myself again.

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A Walk and a Run

19 Apr

Marty McFly is tuckered out after our long walk today. It was bit of an emotional roller-coaster for him as LOVES walks (obvs) but HATES puddles…and all 15 inches of snow we got this week is busy melting.

It kinda went like: Yay! I’m walking! Walking walking walking OH GOD PUDDLE WHAT DO I DO WHERE DO I GO OK OK OK JUST JUMP JUMP I’M JUMPING HERE I GO OK PHEW I DON’T THINK IT GOT ME wheee I’m walking again! La la la! Walking walking sniff sniff sniff OH SWEET JESUS THERE’S ANOTHER ONE.

After we got home I dropped him off and went for a run as the Boston and West, TX events of this week have me feeling anxious. It was only 2 miles, but I struggled to keep going throughout the whole thing. I did keep going, though, because I have an able body and am alive and I should be grateful for and not wasteful of it, and I kept reminding myself of that.

Down Days

8 Apr

Every once in a while I’ll have a day or so where I feel incredibly anxious, unmotivated, and…defeated, I guess. There’s not really a pattern or lead-up to when these days happen — they’re just there, and I wake up, and I feel sad and lethargic and without the will to do much of anything except  rack my brain about what led up to this breaking down. Sometimes there are minor stresses to which I could attribute cause, but usually the absence of a reason is more glaring than any potential reason.

I call them my Down Days, and today was one of them.

 

A Giddy, Grateful Fangirl

24 Mar

I love getting excited about things, and it often doesn’t take much to get me there. Opening the cupboard and seeing that my favorite mug is clean and ready for tea, Carl offering to take Marty for a walk even though it’s my turn, delicious delicious pizza — all are a cause for joy, a fist-pump, a minor victory dance (I shimmy in the kitchen far more than I should).

Of course, there are different levels of excitement; from those events/people/foods/ideas/circumstances that garner a whispered woot and head-nod, to all out, butterflies-in-the-stomach, so happy I’m sad, FEELING ALL OF THE FEELS, as such:

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And the thing that makes me FEEL ALL OF THE FEELS most consistently is storytelling.

I am SO EXCITED that books exist and I am SO EXCITED that music exists and I am SO EXCITED that movies exist and I am SO EXCITED that television exists and I am SO EXCITED that YouTube exists and what this post is really about is witnessing a new form of storytelling that has made me SO EXCITED for almost a year now: a “modernized adaptation” of Pride and Prejudice via a video blog called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I have laughed, cried, looked forward to, and fangirled over the bi-weekly episodes as much as I have any loved story in more recognizable mediums. It was a gutsy, clever experiment gone right, and it just makes me so damn giddy and grateful that it worked and it exists.

The last two episodes air next week and I’m already feeling like this:

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However, the core story will live on, as it has for over 200 years (four for you, Jane Austen; you go, Jane Austen). If you want to be excited and experience this form of storytelling for the first time or for fifty times, I encourage the crap out of you to do so (and then talk to me about it, because I could always use a good squee).

The first episode is below, and here is a playlist from the beginning (don’t skip ahead! the anticipation is the best part! WAIT UNTIL YOU GET TO EPISODE 98! aldjflakjdflkadsf!)

Holy shit I’m going to miss it.

cold, gray, quiet

12 Mar

It was supposed to be in the 60s and 70s all week, but instead it’s a cold, gray, quiet day. Happily, I love cold, gray, quiet days. For some reason, cold, gray, quiet days are even better when they’re a surprise. For some other reason, coffee tastes better, walks feel daydreamier, and music seeps deeper. 

Thanks, unreliable Colorado weather. It was just the kind of day I needed.

1.21 Gigawatts!?

7 Feb

ImageWe have a new addition to the family. His name is Marty McFly. He’s our density.

He’s brought a lot of love, activity, and strolls to the household. I also just feel more responsible; for example, yesterday I put away the laundry I did last week instead of just leaving it all in the basket!*

*May or may not be related to having a dog.

2013: The Goals

30 Dec

As the overall motto this year is “Be Ambitious,” there are a lot of things I’m putting on my goal list. (Here’s hoping that by this time next year this list won’t be a document of my failures while I sit on the floor eating a pint of Americone Dream flavored with my tears.)

Health (NATCH – are you even ALLOWED to make goals for the new year that aren’t tinged with guilt about your health? I’m not willing to find whomever it is you’d ask about that in order to ask them).

  • Be part of the Biggest Blogging Loser challenge (January-March)
  • Do another April goals challenge (um, April)
  • Run the Bolder Boulder (May)
  • Get allllll the way through the Jillian Michaels Body Revolution (made it to Week 8 last time) (this will likely coincide with the BBL and/or April goals)
  • Reevaluate health goals at the beginning of June

Professional-ish/Creative-ish

  • Begin a fun, educational website about writing
  • Make 30 videos in 2013 (~one video every two weeks)
  • Start an online tutoring component by March 2013

Personal

  • Be better at getting back to people: return texts/e-mails/phonecalls/etc. within 24 hours (and create a system for doing so!)
  • Read 50-100 pages a week
  • Write at least one blog post a week
  • Keep up a goals notebook for sub- and mini-goals

Here’s to a productive, get-off-my-arse year of non-broken hopes and dreams! (Please?)

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