As I write this, I’m having one of those nights. You know, the ones that cause you to reflect on how everything that could possibly go wrong during the day went wrong. The ones that make you feel so exhausted, but you want to do anything but sleep because you feel like you didn’t do enough while awake. The ones you end on Facebook and Twitter, desperate to somehow connect with another person feeling the same. The ones that make you look back and regret decisions you made and decisions you never made.
I hate regret. It’s such a debilitating, pointless feeling, but I struggle with it. Whenever I have a bad day teaching, I always revert back to the same mindset: “I should’ve used my scholarships for something else. Something better.” And the thought depresses me. Because it’s wrong on so many levels. Wrong because I’m not sure there are levels of careers—although we definitely need to honor those who dedicate their lives to saving others on a daily basis like military servicemen and women, firefighters, and the like—and wrong because if I went back, I’m pretty sure I would do it all over again.
Many days, I like what I do. But I’m having one of those nights. Everything went right in my classroom yesterday. So I should’ve predicted that today wouldn’t go as well, but color me crazy—I actually thought I might have two successful, “with-it” days in my classroom. Today was a flop. As teachers, we all have flop days. Students who had been making up end of course exams yesterday came clueless about the new subject I was teaching and wanted to be filled in, a new student who speaks little English kept asking me questions in Spanish while another student tried his hardest to translate, one student wanted his seat changed because he doesn’t like the girl he sits near, the energy level of the remaining students was so high that all they wanted to do was talk about what they were going to do over the weekend (or anything other than Shakespeare), and I had a department meeting and a parent conference to attend after school. Oh, and those research papers I tweeted about a couple of weeks ago… Yeah. You know how I vowed to finish them within two weeks? They’re still on my desk.
Because there aren’t enough Shannons to go around. And because some days (please don’t judge me) my heart just isn’t in it. I love my job and I hate it. (How’s that for a contradiction, Shakespeare?)
Ever been there? I chose this career. I went to school for four years. I took certification exams. I participate in professional developments over the summer. I have had chances to opt out. But even from childhood, I felt that I belonged teaching. So into teaching I went. And in teaching I have stayed.
You know how I said before that there aren’t (or shouldn’t be) levels of careers? Well, I sort of lied. Because I do think teaching is important in the scheme of things. I don’t want to spend time debating, or list jobs I think are less important than teaching, because that’s irrelevant and counter-productive. But hear me out. In my “job,” I have (somewhat) impressionable teenage minds in my classroom every day (or you know, when they come) for 180 days. They ask me personal questions, they bring up current events, they discuss politics, they talk about touchy subjects in literature from romance to suicide. I get to know them. They get to know me. And for me, it’s about way more than preparing them for a test. It’s so important for kids to learn and for them to have good role models while they’re young.
I decided when I completed my college degree that once my heart wasn’t in it, once I didn’t care about every aspect of the student’s life, once I didn’t feel that passion for the subject and for the art of teaching anymore, that I would get out.
I’m not quite there, but my strength is waning. Because like all of you reading this, I’m spread too thin. And what happens is when I have a day like today that totally flopped, I get in my car to drive home, and I know I’m going to be irritable with my husband, impatient with my son, and end the day hating myself. (Melodramatic much?) Some days, I truly appreciate my career. Others, I have some concerns and I just plain want a break.
Lucky for me, despite a few trainings I will need to attend in the summer, I plan on having around nine weeks in the summer during which I can do, in Tracy’s words, all the things.
Anyone with me? Do you have a love/hate relationship with your job? What do you do to help get through the rough days at work? How do you avoid letting a bad work day affect your mood at home? Please share your secrets—I can use them!
Photo credit: healthy-family.net