This year has been all about the intentional: thinking it through, having conversations and reflecting on it all. Making decisions that can shift and shake foundations in my life and the lives of those around me. It’s September and there are several cracks in the foundation. Things are going well.
A couple of weeks ago, I was going to explain my why and got caught up in the Charlottesville incident. Since then, I’ve had more time to reflect and fine tune that “why”. A little backstory on this first though.
During our first meeting as a team at my new school, our leader informed us that for reasons that impinged on HER why, she would be quitting her job at the school. Those who had worked with her for a year or more were shocked, upset, angry. I was intrigued. Afterall, I was, along with one other person in the room, the new kids on the block, so her leaving had no real meaning to us other than the possible politics of it all. We listened as she told us her why.
It came down to this: We get up every morning to work in education because it is our passion, our calling, our life’s work. No one on the planet teaches so they can be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize (though someone should) or so they can retire wealthy. We all do this because we have a skill set that we choose to use to better the world… through guiding children to their life goals. She felt that, at that moment, in that place, she couldn’t do that anymore. What she needed to do was bigger than being the team leader and helping us be better at what we do. She needed to reset her timer and aim for a different finish line. She was going to re-establish her, apparently very successful tutoring program and help start a new, private school.We were in tears when she finished. Even me, who had absolutely no investment in her experience. I asked myself why I was crying though. That’s where MY why comes into play.
When I made the final decision to leave the building I’d worked in for 8 years, very fruitful years mind you, it was as if a calm had come over me. I’d told myself I needed a change of venue, a new place and new children to help become scientifically literate and to teach technology skills to. I felt burned out where I was and just needed to start over somewhere else. Til the why session happened. I was crying because, dammit, my why was all wrong. I hadn’t moved to a new building because I needed a change of venue. Changing that wasn’t going to renew me. I knew it wouldn’t because my why has nothing to do with being in a classroom.
I had a conversation with the teacher next door to me. She doesn’t know me from Adam but she is, I have noticed an excellent listener. I laid it all out for her and at the end, I found myself saying… I don’t want to teach children in the classroom anymore. The very sound of it caused me to cry… again. I’d said it. My classroom career was over. These weren’t tears of sadness, fear of the future, or frustration. They were tears of joy. I recognized that my passion has changed and I will remain in education, just not in a classroom. The release of saying it and accepting it was amazing. So, I had to tell someone else.
I told my principal. She was meeting with all the teachers in the building individually anyway and she wanted to know our why. The look on her face when I told her was priceless. I could imagine, somewhere in the back of her mind she as thinking, damn, the science teacher that everyone said was amazing in the classroom is leaving. (yes, I told her I was ACTIVELY looking for a new job) She asked about my new why, I attempted to explain it. It’s still this ethereal thing in the middle of my mind that I know and accept and am ready to take on, but I can’t yet formulate words to express it to others.
Why do I want to become an instructional designer and write STEM curriculum for online courses? Why do I want to work in a setting where I can learn how to do this very thing? Why do I KNOW that doing this is the next best thing for me to do as an educator? Why do I know I have the full support of my family, closest friends and colleagues who know me well enough to have my back?
I have no idea. Or maybe I do but just don’t choose to articulate that just yet. It might make me burst if I say it. I just know it’s a good thing.
After telling the principal, I walked, almost giggling back to my classroom. On the way I passed my team leader’s office. I stopped, sat down and told her what I’d done. She smiled and said, yeah. Then she said, “it’s funny, but I was just…” She pulled out her pen and a sticky note and tapped on her computer for a moment. She wrote something down and handed me the paper. It was a company looking for someone to write middle school science curriculum for a virtual school.
It was Friday, “clean up day” in my classroom. So when the next bunch came barreling in, finishing up a lab and completing bookwork, I applied for that job. And another, and another, and another. I told the principal if I didn’t have anything by December, I’m hers for the rest of the school year. I don’t anticipate being there in December. I don’t think she does either.
Now that I’ve told you, I can breathe. Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you posted.
Why do you work in education? Why do you teach? Why is it your job… to change the world in a way only YOU can?