Jumping Ship Part 3-- "You're so brave"

Here it is. These last few years of indecision and unhappiness with my profession has come to a close. I have decided to stop talking about it and make the decision to leave teaching after 11 years in the classroom. My husband with just a few years less under his belt has decided to do the same. Yikes.

It's been really hard for me to sit down and write about this. I think the idea of my not going back to teaching this next school year is...well, it's weird and uncomfortable and exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

If you've read any of my posts over the last five years, you know I believe in education. I hope you can also tell that I believe lives can be changed with it. However, I no longer believe that my personal philosophies of how to make "learning happen" and "what is best for students" meshes with those of our policy makers; and they most certainly did not mesh with my most recent employer.

For me, it was time to go. At least that's what I keep saying because it's easier than explaining how I never want to become that bitter old teacher who doesn't actually give a shit about their students; the kind who just rides out each year, the kind who is basically the opposite of anyone you want working with and having any influence in the life of your child, the kind who other co-workers are embarrassed to call a fellow teacher because it really is that bad working with them. I didn't want to become that.

It's sad really. I would never claim to be great, but I did care. As a teacher, I was dependable and consistent. I was organized. I prepped and planned. Over the years, I've attended more after-school functions than I could ever begin to list without sounding monotonous. I've coached. I've advised. I've designed field trips and activities. Above all of this, I've spent hours over the years simply talking with my students. I've always felt that allowing students an opportunity to find their voice to express their opinions and beliefs, whether it be in writing or speaking, is one of the more important skills necessary to growing up.

I realize how this probably sounds, me sitting here all self-righteous and self-aggrandizing about my ability to simply do what is expected of teachers. I'm sure it seems as if I want to impress upon you how awful it is that I'm leaving the profession...and I guess I am. It sucks that I've put 13 years into a profession that I've now made the choice to leave. This isn't what I imagined all those years ago when I was first starting out, and the real shit of it is, it's happening without a ripple.

My decision to depart means nothing to anyone but me and that is really hard to accept. It's humbling. When I think about the time and money and ongoing education I've invested, my departure is pretty damn anti-climactic. It's depressing. Boxes of teacher paraphernalia line our garage awaiting some sort of finality.

Friends have been very kind to say that Tyler and I are brave. They tell us how proud they are of us. They've told us how inspiring we are. The thing is, as nice and temporarily reassuring as these comments can be, I don't feel brave...I feel scared.

We don't have jobs. We have a mortgage. We have two adorable pups who have become used to our quality of life. Days like "big biscuit Saturday", a source of great pleasure, may have to revert back to a normal half-biscuit day. And that's okay, at least I think so. I can live on a budget. The hard part is the unknown. So many stories of people losing jobs and then homes and then never ending up back on their feet is a thought I can't seem to shake. The idea that we chose to do this makes it that much more stressful.

People want to know what we're going to do. It constantly comes up in conversation. But here's the thing...we have ideas. We have careers that we are interested in, but we don't necessarily want to broadcast these ideas because what if- what if we realize we hate this new path we've selected for ourselves. What if we go back to school only to realize we miss what we were doing or the lives we had. What if in ten years we look back on this time in our lives and realize that we fucked everything because we weren't being challenged personally and professionally, because we weren't "happy". I don't want to regret this decision.

I think I've reached a phase in my life where I don't believe I have to love what I do for work; however, I do want to like it. I don't want to dread my day as soon as my eyes open in the morning. I don't want to cringe when I open the doors of my workplace telling myself I can do it.  I don't want to work for an employer who can't get their shit together enough to pay their employees on time. I don't want to work for an employer who thinks you owe them something for employing you. I don't want to work for someone who acts as though they are better and treats you with outright disrespect, especially when it is completely obvious to everyone else that the place is better with employees like you there. I don't think it is okay to see students as dollar signs while neglecting to put any actual funds toward bettering their education. And I definitely don't think it is okay to employ people simply because they are your friends or members of your church, when it is clear that they are incapable of accomplishing any tasks whatsoever nor hold the ability to actually work with students effectively.


I'm letting it go.

That should be the last of it, although I'm not making any promises.

A co-worker texted me a few weeks back to tell me the new teacher was in what was my classroom and that she and some friends were giggling while setting up. There was definitely a twinge...a sense of ownership as I was instantly bombarded with images of this teacher messing up my her room. It's weird because I obviously chose to leave and I really don't care, but I can't help but get a little sentimental over the time I spent, the hours I spent in that classroom.

That classroom. The one with the huge mural on the wall that I at first thought was absolutely awful. The one with the insanely high ceilings that forced me to find like a 16 ft ladder to simply hang posters. The one that occasionally housed meetings de las cucarachas. The one with the missing tiles in the ceiling allowing the gigantic spider with its massive tentacles entry at night while I was gone. I know he was up there...watching...waiting. The one where Latimore once defecated. It was an accident. I don't feel bad. The one where I glued pictures of the pups onto the wall, embedding them into the mural along with Tyler and I so that we could all enjoy that crazy lagoon together. It will always be my room.

For years now, Tyler and I have shared our work each day and taken our work home with us each night. Now what?

I don't know exactly. I guess we shall see.

But as usual, this guy gets it.


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