I don't want to get into the specifics of the problems I had teaching this year for many reasons, but I would like to give myself some closure on my blog before I move on into the much more hopeful future that awaits me. My last day with students was last Friday, and I cleaned out my classroom on Monday. So now that I've finished and can finally breathe and feel like myself for the first time in MONTHS, here are some things I learned about myself while enduring this year:
1. If you are dissatisfied in your work to the point that you must medicate, it deeply affects your self-esteem and self-image.
2. There is a double-edged sword to the job security that a teaching job provides in that it lacks flexibility. The consequences for quitting before the end of a contract are extreme.
3. It is hard to be a generous, caring, understanding partner when you are profoundly depressed. Corollary: My marriage is worth more than my career. I need to be reminded of this one sometimes.
4. Bureaucracy can be more than a nuisance that you must rise above; it can make it impossible to do what you are supposed to do.
5. Not all problems in education can be solved or overcome by the hard work and dedication of a single teacher. Not even most of the problems in education can be solved that way. Believing this is naive.
Much of my idealism about teaching (an especially about public schools) and my faith in my own abilities as a teacher have been blown up this year. I have taught successfully in many situations and many different groups for six years, but this one year at a school that was a bad fit for me (to use the politically correct phrasing), has made me question all of my previous accomplishments. I am not a person who backs down when facing a challenge or gives up easily, but this year just knocked the crap out of me. I will not return to teaching again until I have had enough time to reflect on this. I do hope that I one day decide to try again, and that the fear that I'm no longer capable of teaching students does not prove to win the day. But I do not know.
For now, I'm loving my new job at the hotline, looking forward to a vacation over the July 4th holiday, buying big clothes for the expanding belly, and updating this blog about my recent and planned adventures. That's right--I'm back, baby!