Five weeks ago I walked into a classroom full of revelry and anticipation. Summer break was starting the next day. And, for me, that meant an indefinite break from teaching. Very sad, indeed. For the entire month of May, my students had been bidding me farewell through well wishes, fancy stationery, and scrawled notebook paper messages. They also, being the resourceful high schoolers they are, seized any opportunity to throw a farewell party and bring in edible treats.
I do not exaggerate when saying that (even though I try very hard to hide my emotions in the classroom) I was profoundly touched by their gestures. Teaching high schoolers is not a glamorous job, but with such a farewell, I’ve certainly started to think otherwise.
The fact is that good teaching is ridiculously hard. A teacher must take special moments–such as those “light bulb” moments, the impromptu thank-yous, the shared moments of laughter–and hold them closely. Those moments make the hours, days, and years of sacrifice worth it.
Last year was my fourth year teaching in the public school system, and I can truly say that I loved it more with each year I taught. I felt more confident with the material, classroom management, and had developed some immensely rewarding relationships with students, colleagues, and parents. Will there be anything that I miss about teaching? Of course. But, before I list those, I must say that I believe God wants me to be a teacher. Because of this, I can always look deep within myself, find some optimism, and push on. Without a core sense of purpose and God’s calling, I wouldn’t have an eternal mindset, consequently causing me to live in the temporary and superficial–which, I believe, would be unsustainable.
OK, so here’s what I will not miss:
- The papers: Hands down, I will not miss grading around 200 papers every week. At all. Perhaps I can find a job with just 50 students next time?
- The government involvement: The popular quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” reminds me that government involvement, no matter how frustrating and wavering it is, is still not reason to step out of the teaching profession. However, I will certainly not miss Uncle Sam’s presence in my life. One year, the Republicans take control, so we prepare for RISE evaluations. And it takes at least 50% of my prep time. The next year, we have to prepare for Common Core. But, wait, the Republicans decided to say “no” to that, too. So, we revert everything back to state standards. In the meantime, everyone is hyped up about health benefits because Obamacare is now dictating everyday minutiae for school employees; such as the number of bus drivers, coaching staff, and part-time non-certified staff. Whatever happened to keeping the kids first?
- Not being a stronghold for my hard-working husband: With Josh’s crazy schedule, it is really nice for one of us to be stable now. I think he also likes having regular meals and less pleas to give me “just one more hour” to finish planning and grading.
- Leaving my son at daycare: Although Caleb enjoyed the activity, he was sick a lot (7 ear infections!), and didn’t get the one-on-one time that I wanted to give him. Daycare is a great thing, but it really pulled at this momma’s heartstrings. And, I’m so thankful that I can now cuddle up with him in the mornings while we read books and he eats breakfast. No more 6 am rushing to daycare.