Anne Schwartz wrote a wonderful post this morning about “Why I am not quitting teaching.” It is a extremely thought provoking post, and it made me think. She wrote many times “I am not,” “I do not,” etc, but it is easy to turn it all around and see the positive in every statement. Because, IT IS a very positive post, hiding behind many negative statements. She ends with,
Mostly, I am committed to never reading another fucking letter from a disgruntled teacher about their decision to quit. If you feel like writing one of those let me know and I am happy to give you suggestions just where you can put it.
I made it a habit of mine to follow this advice daily.
Anne is one of those people.
But, I have been questioning myself the last 8 months because I kind of feel like I did quit. I am not in a classroom daily. I am not interacting with high school learners, and this has caused me to have a crisis of confidence. Am I a fraud, now? Did I sell out?
Anne’s post made me think deeply this morning. She uplifted me, and inspired me to think. And I realized something.
I did NOT sell out.
I moved into a different category of teaching. I didn’t walk away from my learners, and my colleagues. I didn’t walk away from the challenges of teaching, I embraced them more, and deeper than I did before.
I now have the added burden, challenge, and yes, job, of telling young adults how they should teach. Most importantly, I must communicate WHY they should teach. And if I am not 100% clear to myself and the world that teaching is the 100% best use of my time, energy and effort, than I have sold out and am a fraud.
I loved teaching. I LOVE teaching.
Because for 8 years I knew I can walk in the door of my building and know with absolute certainty that I worked with the absolute best people who cared about people. I may not have agreed with them every day. But no one could ever question their commitment to our learners.
Because it was about my learners. Every single day. It was about their success, not mine. It was about our learning, together. It was their bad days (because they had them) and my bad days (because I had them) but it was always how to get better and do better.
Because content is great, but people are better.
Because standards are important. You must know know where you are going, or you just wander around aimless.
Because my worst day teaching was still better than my best day in the private sector (10 years of that prior to teaching.)
Because I hated grading, hated grades, but knew they were a necessary annoyance to the process. So I focused on what was important, learning, and not the grades.
Because after 9 years in a classroom, I still can’t believe they paid me to talk math with people every day? And I had the privilege of talking addition with one learner one day, and calculus with another a different day, and stats yet again on a different day. And each day, each learner needed a different conversation.
Because each day was a new day. The blow up by a learner yesterday was yesterday. Every day was new. With a new beginning, a new morning, and a new opportunity to fix a misconception or a misunderstanding.
Have I “sold out” like I was accusing myself? No.
I have embraced it more. I have become a bigger cheerleader.
Now, I am in elementary, middle, and soon, high school classrooms. I am in college classrooms recruiting future teachers. I am telling them, honestly, why I teach.
Thank you Anne. You helped me resolve the internal, nagging voice that was telling me I was a fraud. (Damn Imposter Syndrome.) Screw that.
I teach people.
I used to teach people math.
Now I teach people teaching.
That is so cool. Can you believe they pay me to do this?
Good morning. It is a new day. Let’s go teach someone.