The past 6 months have flown by in a blur. When I was looking for a teaching job, I never imagined that come Winter Break, I wouldn’t want to go back. In fact, all through college, as I heard over and over the statistics of early teachers changing careers, I thought, “Not me!”
So, why, when December hit, did I spend the entirety of my break working toward and setting up alternative ways of generating income? Why did just the thought of grading my student’s tests bring on bouts of anxiety and a prickly feeling at the back of my neck? How did I go from being a super excited and optimistic student to a depressed, stressed out and anxious teacher?
It didn’t happen over night. In fact, I can trace the feelings back to around October. I remember my first weeks on campus, my smile a mile wide, enthusiasm burning high. I hit the ground running. Then, I tripped, then I fell and almost landed on my face. Not physically, but mentally. It began when I realized that nothing in college had prepared me for the challenges I was facing.
Nothing in college prepared me for a dozen or so English Language arts curricula, half-missing materials of other teachers and a room that had a single storage cabinet. Nothing in college prepared me for having to teach and schedule in 2 days worth of work in a 1 day’s worth of time. Nothing prepared me for administration evaluating me on everything from my lesson plan book to my walls. I certainly was not prepared for a situation in which I didn’t have a collaborative team of grade-level teachers in which to work with. Not even in the books that claim to cover all that college did not prepare you for, did they include the things that nearly broke me.
Today I went back to work after 3 weeks of much needed vacation. I had brought home three bags full of papers to grade, and books to use for extensive lesson planning. In total, I spent a single day doing that, and all my ideas about getting ahead flew out the door as quick as the days passed.
Yet, when I walked back into my classroom, I began to remember why I was there. I began to remember my student’s faces and wonder what they had done while they were on vacation. One of my students went to Mexico and he will be excited to tell me all about it. Other students will have had other adventures and stories to tell. Some of them might feel like I did, and not want to come back. Others will be very grateful to have the routine and predictability in their lives again.
Today when I walked back into my classroom, I began to remember all the reasons I was so passionate before. I can’t promise that I won’t be one of those teachers who changes careers after only two or five years of teaching. I can say I was shocked that the thoughts crossed my mind. Honestly, another year just like the one I’ve experienced, would drive me away. Luckily, it is said that the first few months are the toughest. So, I do know that I won’t be a teacher who changes careers in December. For now, I will continue to do my best and hope that my best will be good enough so that I can stay and see what teaching is like for a second year.