Don't get me wrong- the break is nice to refresh the batteries and plan for another attempt at doing the unthinkable. However, I'm too much of an active character to be without work for 2+ months. This year, more than others, this is about the time when I start to question why I chose this profession. Come to think of it, this was one of the last things I would've ever wanted to do when I was in college.
Teach the same thing, 5 times a day, to 35 kids, 180 days in a school year, for 30 years?
What was I thinking?
Absolutely not. This would not be me. This would not be the way that I would wade through life, supporting a family and evolving as a human being. I've seen "Groundhog Day" and the concept is about as far from fun as any profession that I want to be involved with. Repeat the same day, again and again (and again), every day.
7 years ago, I would've laughed at you if you told me I'd be in a classroom. 7 years ago, I didn't know what teaching really was.
I've had the chance to get out of education. A friend of mine offered me a job in the business world, and it was a tempting one. Get out and away from the stress of playing teacher, coach, mentor, counselor, cheerleader, and father-figure. All in all, it seemed like a great proposition. I'd make a little more money, be able to make my own schedule to some degree, and have more freedom. But it just wasn't where I'm needed.
Last week, I told my students that I wouldn't be returning to the school that I currently teach at. These kids are 8th graders, many of whom I would never see again, even if I stayed in the same classroom for another 20 years. For some reason, they were upset. When explaining that I'd be moving 70 miles away to accept a high school position, they were even more upset. To be honest, that made me feel good, knowing that I was in the right profession. I've made connections with these kids and, somewhere out there, maybe I've influenced one or two to see things a little bit better. Forget about the math aspect of my job. I'm talking about the ability to see and seize opportunities that life offers us.
With that, I realized exactly what I was thinking when accepting a job as a middle school math teacher. I was fresh out of college, math degree in hand, with no teaching experience. On a whim, why not, this teaching thing was appealing. It's only gotten better.
What I was thinking was that we need more people in education who are willing to be the difference; the people who are willing to admit when they screw up, in front of their students, and teach them how we go through correcting it. We need the people who are dedicated to our profession far more than some union contract or pay scale dictates. We need people who demand the best for our students, even if it means longer hours and customized learning in order to make it happen, without financial gain to validate our work.
We need more people who are willing to teach, and not just a bunch of teachers.
After a very stressful time in my (and my family's) life, the decision is quite clear: my students need me. I won't be getting out of education, and it isn't because I'm drinking the Kool-Aid that public education is serving. There are plenty of things wrong with education, and the last thing we need is teachers who care about being the element of change to leave our profession. The wind of change is coming, and I'm happy to say that I am a teacher happy tp feel the breeze.