Being Myself at Work

Lately I’ve been considering a near-future change in careers from teaching in public schools to … well, just about anything.  Secretary?  Book store clerk?  Private music teacher?  Yoga instructor?  IT person?  Computer programmer?

This has been to varying degrees of seriousness, but it has made me think hard about what is it exactly that I want to change.  I’m clearly not content with the way things are.  When I think of myself as a teacher, I don’t think of myself.  There is so much of me that I feel like I hide, or that I feel are discouraged in the setting in which I teach.  When I think business-professional superteacher in a tough urban setting (which is what my school desires), I don’t see me.  I don’t see the person who is pagan, who is in awe of the stars and trees, who is in love with making music with voice or guitar or both, who is moved by the writings of Thoreau and Goethe and Whitman and more, who prays to gods that most non-pagans haven’t heard of or know of only as fairy tales or myths.  My school demands tough standards and expectations, but how does that fit in with developing relationships with students and opening up the world to them?  While opportunities can open up with skills mastery, where is the room for the inspiration that comes from discovery and creating something beautiful?

I know I must sound a little hippie, but I am a firm advocate that there is (or should be) something more in one’s education than competence in basic skills and facts.  It is a belief as deep as any facet of my spirituality, of my core being.

The world of my work feels so cold and distant to everything else about me, yet there is hope.  I know of teachers who value similar things and are making it — so perhaps I just haven’t figured it out yet?  Perhaps my people-pleasing tendencies from childhood went into overdrive in this job, and while I was doing “fine” according to my supervisors, I was killing myself to do it.

This is the challenge for the coming weeks and this upcoming school year: I need to find myself in my role as teacher.  I need to open myself up with my students, listen to them, and provide more opportunities for educational exploration and creative outlets.  And outside of my role as a teacher, I need to involve myself in activities and meet with people who remind me who I am.

I am a teacher, I can’t only be a teacher.


One thought on “Being Myself at Work

  1. Greetings Rose,

    I can so relate to what you’ve written here. I can well remember my teaching days in a college, where my ‘spirituality’ was not encouraged to shine through, let alone it being an inspiration to the students. It’s a difficult tension I think. You don’t sound ‘hippie’ at all when you say there should be more to a person’s education than competence in basic skills and facts. That’s important but so is creativity and spirituality, and I’m not talking about dogmatic spirituality here either. But there are definite opportunities to infuse one’s teaching and curriculum with more ‘soul’. That might not, in the end, make you a people-pleaser but think of the nourishment your students, and you, will get from exploration and pushing the established boundaries of formal education. You are MORE than just a teacher. That is only one facet of the multifaceted spirit that you are.

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