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.