Monday, November 24, 2014

Do You Miss Teaching?

"Do you miss teaching?" It's something I get asked quite often ever since deciding to quit my job to stay home with my daughter. This is one of the most loaded questions of all times. Yes, there are parts of teaching I miss and there are parts that I am so happy to be done with--even if it is only temporary.

 
What I Miss About Teaching

ROUTINE/PREDICTABILITY: I could also title this: What I Miss About Working. I had a system down--get up, get dressed, breakfast on the go (except for Fridays--on Fridays I would stop and treat myself to hot chocolate and maybe a muffin), listen to my favorite morning show in the car and for the first hour of work, teach, organize/grade/lesson plan, come home, dinner, cuddle, bed. Some days my life felt like it wasn't really being lived. I felt like I was going through the same motions every day, but often I thrived on knowing what to expect. If I was having trouble getting out of bed, the promise of an uninterrupted hour in my classroom while listening to Mike and Kate in the morning often motivated me.

AMBITION--I admit that there are days that I miss joining committees and trying to work hard to make a name for myself. I miss continuing my education (I plan to return to school in the summer, but we'll see). Some days I miss the education I received both during work, on committees, and outside of work. I miss reading, researching, and reporting different things. I miss finding ways to improve my classroom and my teaching. 

THE STAFF--This is a hard one for me. When I was working I was working and I really didn't make a lot of time for friendships. Teaching, for me, took a lot of extra work. I liked my mornings uninterrupted and I often stayed two-three hours after school each got out to get everything done as I refused to take work home. I often ate lunch in my classroom and did work during that time as well. I did however, have a best teaching friend and second mom next door. I did waste a few mornings, afternoons, and work days talking with her. I had different friendships throughout the building. I didn't realize how much I missed those faces, small conversations, and little inside jokes until they weren't around any more. I went from thinking I didn't have many friends to realizing I had a lot of them and I miss them terribly. 

TEACHING--The actual act of teaching is probably one of the things I miss the most. Due to changes in education, we were at a point where we were given a little more leniency with our curriculum and I was eating that up. I loved finding/creating and executing a good lesson. I love asking questions, helping students find answers, and pushing students. I love and miss knowing how far I could push each student. There is a hidden gift in teaching and that's understanding each student and his/her personality, learning style, and abilities. You know which kid will shut down if you push too hard and which student won't get it unless you do push him/her. I miss tapping into that gift and feeling good at the end of the day. 

THE KIDS--The kids are the part I miss the most. I miss knowing them, laughing with them, hearing their stories and teaching them. I miss them so much. I miss seeing their pride, I miss hearing what they liked about a certain lesson, and I miss that relationship. We had a family in my classroom and it was a welcoming and happy place. My students helped one another and knew how to ask for help. I miss feeling that family each and every day. There is such an energy in a happy classroom. 



What I Don't Miss About Teaching

Everything Else-There is so much that goes on behind the scenes with teaching. You might think I covered it all with the things I mentioned above: 
     
     Predictability and Routine? But there was always something. A last minute presentation to interrupt my lesson plans, rainy day schedules with no recess, a fundraising assembly, etc, etc, etc. There was always an interruption. Those interruptions messed with my carefully written and scheduled lesson plans more often than not and were so incredibly stressful. 
    
      Ambition? It had is consequences. I was always seeking improvement which always meant less time for actually teaching. If I was on a committee, it cut into prep time. If I took a class, I couldn't stay late. If I was improving one lesson I had to lose time to something else. There's a lot of craziness in teaching. There is never enough time and there are never enough resources. When you are learning and tyring to be better but there's no time to plan better lessons or money or help--it can be very discouraging. In fact, discouragement is putting it lightly.
    
      The staff? For as many friendships that I had, I also had enemies. I am opinionated--especially when it comes to education and education reform. I stand by my opinions and I am not quiet about them. I was definitely a minority in my building and that made me less than popular with some people. Some of those people were more powerful than me--the politics in teaching--I could (and perhaps will) cover the ins and outs of this in meeting. When people talk about the politics they are not usually just naming the administration. There are building bullies that are just teachers like everyone else.  I have never seen adults be so mean and cruel as I have within the building of my school. I had some very bad days. 
     
     Teaching? Like I said. There's never enough time. As much fun as teaching is--all of the behind the scenes stuff is time consuming and stressful. In the building I taught, the majority of the students came to me below grade level. I had to work in specified interventions for certain kids, enrichment for the students at or above grade level, and grade them all. I had to plan 6 hours worth of lessons every day that covered reading, math, writing/language, and history and/or science without a curriculum and with little more than pencils and paper. Some days the very task of teaching felt like a mountain I would never get over. That feeling of being overwhelmed is not foreign in most jobs but the killer about teaching is that you have 30 kids that you want to succeed who are dependent upon your making each day happen and be as successful as possible. Oh and forget about calling in sick. You will always work twice as much when you are absent as you are when you are present. Each time I got sick I had to weigh writing and delivering/preparing sub plans, making up for the lessons that I wouldn't trust a sub to teach, and getting the grading done when I would be a day behind.
 
     The kids? Well behind every kid is a parent (or two or three) and my goodness. Parents can be your greatest asset or your greatest hindrance. I always had at least one totally crazy and out of control parent. The year I had JaiseAnn, I had three. That might not seem like much but oh my goodness, it nearly sent me over the edge. I remember waddling my very pregnant, tired, and aching self into my Principal's office last year and the second I shut the door I started bawling. I sobbed and explained that I really felt like a certain parent was going to give me a nervous break down. What she was upset at me for and causing a stink about I truly could DO NOTHING about. I struggled a lot with parents that wanted their kid to get a grade for the sake of the grade and didn't care whether or not their child understood the concept, got angry if their child was struggling because they assumed it was poor teaching and not that their child was having difficulty despite good teaching, and parents who wanted to make every excuse in the world for their kids. If there is one thing I don't tolerate, it's an excuse. Parents are the hardest part about teaching in my opinion. I do not miss the stresses of a crazy parent. 

All in all. I do miss parts of teaching. I wonder what I'll do. If I can continue to stay home when JaiseAnn (and any future kids) are in school, will I? Are there other opportunities for me that will allow me some of the good parts of teaching without the drama and added stress. When it comes down to it, I am not sure. I love being a mom so much and while I'm not learning new teaching strategies and how to create successful interventions, I'm learning about patience, homemaking, and budgeting. I'm still learning. I don't want to bring the unwarranted stresses of teaching home with me. Many women (myself included at one time) think that working would make them a better mom. I do not think it would...at least not teaching. I explore my other options almost daily. Ultimately, though, I love being home more than I miss being away from the classroom. Times infinity.  
   
If you are/were a stay at home mom, what do/would you miss about work life?
   

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