I went back into teaching today.
Towards the end of last school year, I decided to leave the district I’d been with for the previous six years mainly because of a commute that due to a move had grown considerably longer than when I had started. Once the decision to leave that district was made, I decided to leave the profession altogether. There were a number of reasons, but mainly I was feeling burned out. Besides, I had never intended to teach forever. Teaching was my second career. After growing tired of the ups and downs of freelancing in the film business, I had wanted to do something ‘useful for a while’ as I told people who thought I’d lost my mind back when I was working through an alternative certification program.
Last summer, I decided that since I was going to be looking for another job why not look outside of public education? I spent the summer interviewing and searching and finally found a job as a project manager at a small company. It sounded exciting – a combination of marketing, IT and communications. The job was okay, but it didn’t leave me feeling fulfilled. The commute was horrendous, I got home very late each evening and while there was no grading to do, I had little time for writing, a problem that was growing increasingly difficult since there is another novel just bursting to be written. So back I went to the calculus of career in which I always conclude that what I do all day must be personally fulfilling and give me time to write.
The thing about teaching is that I know I’m really good at it. I can reach the kids who hate school (just as I hated it until I got to college) and I can push them past the level of ‘minimum skills’ that Texas requires, showing them that they can read and write and – most importantly – think better than they ever thought they could. Not teaching felt like I was wasting part of myself.
A few weeks ago, I started looking and found a mid-year opening at an alternative school. It’s a boot camp environment for kids who are on their last chance. In some cases the next step could be prison. This is exciting to me. When I got the job last week, I happily packed up my office and quit. Today was my first day at my new school. I loved it. It felt right. When I resigned from my old teaching position everyone tried to convince me that teaching was my calling and that I shouldn’t leave the profession.
I’m glad I did, but I’m thrilled to be back where I think I probably belong. I’ve had many jobs, a few professions and careers, but only teaching has ever made me want to get up and go to work for someone else.