Since I started graduate school, I’d never considered a career outside of education. I’ve been interested in jobs outside of the classroom. Moving into administration provides the only meaningful promotion in schools. Policy work has a sexiness about it while also providing an avenue to have more of a voice in the educational policies that I think make a difference in students’ lives but can’t implement within my classroom. But I never considered that I’d leave education.
Last year, however, I found myself thinking about leaving. I wondered a lot about other kinds of jobs I could have to attack poverty in our country. I wondered a lot about the kinds of jobs I could have where I went home at the end of the day and that was it -- maybe a few e-mails here and there but not a stack of grading.
I never applied anywhere, but I did talk. A lot. I had coffee with my professors from grad school; I talked to other teachers to find out what they’d done to overcome similar slumps. A meeting with my awesome principal helped things click.
I confessed to her that I was burnt out. You are? She replied in a tone of voice she might use if she were mildly surprised to learn I was getting over a cold or reading an okay book. I felt like I’d made this big confession: I’m not happy teaching and that’s a problem because I have always been happy teaching. Her response really helped me chill out. And once I did, she reminded me of just how many health issues I experienced in the last year.
I doubt that my principal was the first person to remind me that this school year was full of bike accidents, shingles, and a bunch of other things I’d rather not list on my blog. But at that moment, my thick skull finally got it: my life outside of the classroom matters more than I have ever realized. I’ve spent these last three years riding the teaching high of the first magical moments in the classroom and figuring out how to recapture them. I’ve picked up every yoga class I could, tried to organize my time efficiently, read all the articles on life-work balance. But I’ve had it all backwards. I’ve been treating my work life and my home life and my friend life as separate entities. In reality, they’re all facets of my life life.
My readers are pretty smart, so you all probably figured this out before I did. Thanks for sticking with me to this point. I know I’ve rambled a lot, but it seemed important to me to tell this story: how I went from loving teaching from the very first day to pushing myself through the day. I started blogging about teaching to show what really happens in our classrooms. To show my work. And this year, my work was to get through the day and figure out how to have better ones for my students.