30, 29, 28, 27…
This time of year I’m normally counting down. But now, there’s no counting. The days come, and the days go. The calendar turns, and I don’t care. My calendar has changed.
Recently, someone asked me if I missed teaching. It’s not the first time someone asked. I actually ask myself the question often.
After all, for more than a decade, I was a high school English teacher. I worked in the same school and had many of the same colleagues over that time. While that’s not quite Letterman type of longevity, it’s still significant.
I felt at ease in the school. I knew my way around the halls, the neighborhood, and the bureaucracy (that was the toughest part).
We identify ourselves by our profession. After all, what is the most asked question when you meet someone? “So, what do you do?” (Back in college, it was, “What’s your major?” It was after that line I struggled with the women. I was so awkward.)
Anyway, I was ready with an answer. I knew the reactions I would get when I announced this. There were those who would tell me about their favorite teacher and how they loved Hamlet, and those who smiled awkwardly and shook their heads searching for what to say next. Some people would simply say, “I hated English,” and then I’d be smiling awkwardly.
Yeah, I knew the drill. I felt comfortable.
And maybe that was a problem. While I worked hard to do my best for every student and cared for each one of them, it’s easy to grow complacent. I’ll handle it later. I know what I’m doing. Yeah, I don’t need to concern myself with that.
I wasn’t growing. I wasn’t challenged. I wasn’t excited.
When I sent in my resignation letter, I was shaking. I was nervous, excited, and hopeful.
However, I didn’t look at it as the end of my career as an educator. I planned on staying in the field in some capacity. In fact, I sought a part time position. My goal was to teach and to write. It seemed like the best of both worlds.
Teaching in a new environment, I figured, would be a refreshing change. I needed to be pushed. However, I was unable to find a teaching position. So, I was no longer an educator. (I’ve been tutoring, and I enjoy it immensely)
And something felt amiss. I never changed my LinkedIn title which included educator. I continued to mention my past job when I got the inevitable, “What do you do?”
As you can imagine, when I got the opportunity to teach a college course this Spring, I was excited. I was also curious and nervous. Would I be able to stand in front of a class again? Would I get excited? Would I be able to connect with the students and help them learn?
That first day I was nervous. It felt weird to be in front of students again with all eyes on me. But then… The interaction between the students, the responses to questions, and the lesson unfolding… It felt natural and comfortable, in a good way. I hadn’t lost it. I was enjoying it.
So, as we near the end of a school year, this is how I would answer the question of, “Do I miss being a teacher?”
Yes, I do, in some ways. I miss the students. I miss the feeling of a school year coming to an end and knowing that we (class and I) journeyed together. We sat in a classroom though the four seasons, through various emotions, through different texts.
I love writing and am enjoying pursuing it.
However, part of me is an educator and always will be an educator. Now, I need a class.