Here it is. The past and the present. I used to work at this school. On that water tank is painted the name of the much loved principal who died one morning on his way to work. I filled in as Assistant Principal here for a few months after he passed, juggling my grief with a lot of standardized tests and naughty students who needed discipline. I thought I’d be an administrator after that. All signs pointed that way. I went to school and took all the right classes, got the credential and did as I was asked by those in positions of superiority. I was good at that sort of job, and I liked it because I always had a lot to do. It felt good to organize my lists and then check things off of them. It was still messy, but not like being in the classroom. No grades to do, no lessons to plan. I was in awe of how hard teachers work to make less money than I was making.
After a couple of years working in “that” sort of job, I noticed that every time I owned my passion the person to whom I reported made sure to put me back in the box for which I was approved. Passion, creativity, new ways of looking at a problem were not acceptable for a person in my position. Eventually the job went away and I wondered what I’d done wrong. Had I actually done something wrong? I always had good reviews – they said I was a team player, always went beyond what I was asked to do. Things like that. But in my reviews no mention was ever made of the times I was swept back into compliance. Those aberrations of my behavior were kindly ignored on my reviews. Until it came to revisiting staff assignments and suddenly it seemed that my position was expendable. And it was, it truly was. I had been reduced to doing work that a good administrative assistant could do. My degrees and experience were not needed at all for the work I was doing. But who was I to complain? I was making more money than I had in the classroom and I was on the track to… where? I never really thought about that. I had kind of lost my way, I realize.
In retrospect, I remember the day I was packing up my classroom, and a dear friend and colleague came in to say how much she’d miss me. I looked at her, and with tears clogging my throat, said, “I don’t know why I’m doing this. All I ever wanted was to be a good teacher.” But I continued packing and left that school.
For the past year I’ve been back in the classroom, only this time it was a seventh grade one. I wound up there because again I listened to the people who suggested it was stepping along the path I had chosen and once again I complied. It was the hardest year of my teaching life. Like starting over again. Taking care of myself was not part of the picture. And why should it be? I wasn’t even listening to my heart where work was concerned. How could I even get close to the real heart of my life?
Now I have a little time off. And I’m really thinking things over. Really, what am I supposed to do next? Where is my heart, my passion? I can’t even feature why I am writing about it in such a public place, but as I recall, this is why I started this blog. Accountablility to myself and to others. There is no easy answer to spout out. No big AHA! Not yet at least. I guess I will just keep walking and drinking that water. I’ll look at my checklist (which I finally typed up last night!!)each morning and do a couple of things on it every day, until I finally reach a day in which I do it all. And then I’ll see what’s up.