Back in November, I posed the question: “How do you know if you’ve chosen the right job?” That post came in response to a particularly difficult start to the new school year, in which I felt like I was an optional entity up in front of the room that students could ignore on and off at will.
Fast forward three months, and I’m in much the same position, except now I’ve started to throw words out like “hate” and “job” in the same sentence on a regular basis. To make myself feel better, I’ve been trying to commiserate with other (more experienced) teachers, who can only basically tell me that they love their job and that it gets better with time (and that each year and each group of kids brings vastly different problems and challenges to the forefront.)
Sometimes I feel like I’ve tried it all—I’ve tried being consistent, tried getting to know the kids personally, tried working with parents, tried focusing on kids who actually want my help instead of cramming it down the throats of the kids who don’t . . .
And on days like today, it’s easy to convince myself that nothing is coming out of it all but the onset of an ulcer for me and another school day over with for my students.
Then I start thinking that the problem maybe lies within my own mind, so I start trying to reframe the issue–maybe I just need to focus more on the positive, maybe I need to work on my relationship with the students rather than worry so much about the teaching part for now, or maybe I need to follow the advice of this fabulous blog post and reframe my thinking using the power of three examples (which I’ve been trying to do all morning only to be stymied by three kids who I had to haul off to the principal’s office before I did something crazy.
And then today, in the quiet of a lunchtime half hour, while I could hear hundreds of students shrieking down the halls and gabbing with their friends, I thought about how my life lately has looked: I have found myself feeling very unlike myself after long, stressful days at work, and it’s coming out in all sorts of unhealthy ways: an overreliance on sugar and starchy foods to comfort me when I’m feeling down, a tendency to be just too exhausted to fit in the miles I should be running to prepare myself for my upcoming half-marathon, and a solid lack of desire to do anything that normally brings me pleasure, like reading books, blogging, or taking pictures.
And in that moment, an article I read this week in the February issue of the Oprah magazine and a quote in it by psychologist Martha Beck came to mind:
“If you cease to betray yourself in fundamental ways, the self-sabotage on the surface simply stops.”
Perhaps teaching 7th graders in this particular setting is not me being fundamentally true to those things within myself that bring my satisfaction and joy. Anyone that knows me knows that I love a challenge, so it must not be that the job is too challenging. Perhaps just the nature of the age group or the nature of this particular school environment does not coincide well with the particular nature that is in me.
I started looking at other possible teaching jobs right then and there.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ll be going ahead and switching schools for this next year (especially since we still don’t know for sure where we’ll be next year until we hear back from all of the PT schools that Matt applied to).
But I’m quite sure—and becoming more sure every day—that I haven’t found a teaching job yet that’s the right “fit” for me.
Although that thought is actually a little comforting to me, it does pose a problem:
Now what do I do until that future point when I’m no longer in this particular job? How do I stop hating where I’m at now?