What If…

What if I just…ran away? 

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Year Six

Today begins my sixth year of teaching.

In this time I’ve learned some hard lessons, been knocked on my ass, and fought like hell to get through to my students.

I’ve had two babies, planned a wedding, struggled with myself, and my job. I’ve fought parents, my coworkers, and students.

I’m excited to be back, but as teaching should, it’s caused some reflection.

My first year I was idealistic, bright-eyed, naive. I was given a hard roster, and I made those kids mine. I’m still in contact with many of those first four classes.

This year, I’m less idealistic, more dark-circled than bright-eyed, and battling myself and depression to begin with.

I’m no less in love with my students or why I do this.

I love literature. No doubt about it, it is my first love. I love themes, connections, authors, symbolism. But I also love being the person some of these kids trust. The pleasant face they get to see in the morning.

I’m not going to pretend this is some easy job you can phone it in for. It’s not. In fact, it’s overwhelming, exhausting, and draining. Because it matters. It’s hard because these kids–whether they admit it or not–need me, need my coworkers, need the structure and guidance we try to provide. It’s hard because some of them have dealt with things I can’t even begin to fathom.

So. Here’s to year six. To sleepless nights. To cheering on my athletes, and praising my fine arts kids. To showing up, giving them my all and then some. To remembering to take care of myself too. To reading, arguing, writing, grading, and gallons of coffee.

Here we go.

Definitions

I don’t think we’re so easily defined. I think life is so much more complicated, and we’re an ever-evolving sum of a variety of things. There’s beauty in that chaos.

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Whoop, There It Is

It’s…isolating. Exhaustion. Frustration and frustrating. I just want to sleep, and sleep, and sleep until this feeling goes away. 

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Bittersweet Moments

I’m so excited for R to be here, to see him, to see what he looks like, and I am so damn ready to not be pregnant: to bend at the waist, to see my toes, to be able to take an ibuprofen, to have a beer and/or glass of wine. But.

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Summer School

Teaching is one of those professions where some days it feels like you can’t win. I’ve been disheartened lately by the amount of teachers I know (or follow on social media accounts) who are choosing to leave either the classroom or the field as a whole.

But I get it.

I’ve been…frustrated, exhausted, stressed out, overwhelmed by teaching lately–and yes, it’s summer.

To be honest, that’s part of the problem. It’s summer, and so far I’ve had two meetings with parents, two students who are now doing recovery credit over the summer, a parent contacting me about a grade, and the expectations that I will be at the school/available to the students doing credit recovery.

Bluntly, I feel like I’m being punished for these students failing my class. And, it’s not that they didn’t get ample warnings, they chose not to do the required work and their grade reflects it.

(Admittedly, being pregnant and miserable, exhausted, sore, contracting for a fucking month, have not put me in the best of moods. My strong feelings about the field currently are probably in part because of the miserable end of my pregnancy, but nonetheless.)

I’m angry with my principal, who I feel is forcing my hand here. I’m angry with my super who skipped the first meeting, then after the kid left the next day after I had been working with him had the gall to ask me if I was a “glutton for punishment.”

I’m angry because I’m not being paid for this time, and I feel like that says my time isn’t valued. I’m angry because I teach high school, and how the fuck are the kids going to be taught accountability if we continue to hold their hands and make allowances for poor choices.

I’m angry because I’m angry. I’m angry because this isn’t the teacher I want to be. This is a two-fold statement: I don’t want to be the teacher who doesn’t prepare my students for the real world or higher education–and let’s be real, credit recovery isn’t preparing them for either of those. I also don’t want to be the teacher who is so dismissive of students needs. I do recognize that this is what’s best for both of these kids. I want them to be successful.

I also want them to do the damn work when they’re supposed to.

I’m disappointed, because for the first time in my five year teaching career I feel that my opinions as a professional aren’t being respected, and the state of the education system makes me question if any of this is worth it.

I’m forced to do a program I don’t believe is effective, it’s supplemental, and it’s a large part of why these two students failed the second semester. If they had just met their goals, they probably would have passed. My principal now wants me to ensure that at check in they have half of their goal met. All of my 80 students, unless they talk to me first.

I’m exhausted by this battle. I’ve been fighting my students on it for five fucking years. I don’t want to do the program; and if we’re going to continue to utilize the program, I don’t want to force accountability because as high school students I shouldn’t have to.

I honestly feel that if they’re going to fail, that’s a good life lesson.

I don’t like feeling like my hand is forced or I get no choice in something. I’ve been in the same district for five years, and this is the first time I feel trapped/forced into something I don’t want to do.

I feel that the micromanaging is a reflection of my teaching, and that pisses me off. I feel that as a professional: someone with a Bachelor of Arts in English Education, and now a Masters in Education, I know what’s best for my students.

At the very least, I feel that my thoughts should be listened to, and not just shot down.

I understand why teachers face burn out and leave the profession: administration forgets how it feels to be made to feel like a child; the pay is asinine considering the work we put it; lack of respect from the general public, parents, students, politicians…I could go on. Feeling isolated. Being dismissed, because “How hard could it be? You get summers off!”

I have a Masters degree…and I’ll be making roughly $45,000 next year. The average salary for someone with a Masters is $70,000. I don’t really care about money, I care about the fact that I’m a well-educated professional, and by a variety of outlets, I’m treated like a glorified babysitter.

I’m not making any rash decisions, because as I said, the last month has been a rough one and my mood as a whole isn’t great. And…even if I wanted out, what would I do? For the last ten years, getting my English Ed degree and teaching has been my only goal/focus (professionally, I did get married and have a baby or two).

I don’t know who else I could be.

But…I know who I currently am, especially professionally, isn’t who I want to be either.

Riiiiight…..Rights.

I’m just telling you, as a mom of almost two, who loves my babies more than life itself; no one, and I mean no one gets to tell me what I can or can’t do with my reproductive system. Sorry.

Whoops, got a little heated and a little controversial.

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