Once a year, the group foreign of teachers at my school gets together for a sort of reflection dinner. We go to a restaurant, along with our two main supervisors from school and our supervisor from the states, and we eat and talk. Even though we often get together for things church-related or school events, by the end of the year it starts to feel astounding whenever we get all of us, or most of us, in the same place.
One of the goals of this dinner is also to reflect on yourself. We’re each asked to find a way to share about how we feel we’ve changed over the year; many people bring some sort of visual aid as well.
While this year has led me to make some important decisions, it was hard to vocalize them to these people I’ve worked with all year. I said something that felt sort of wooden and rushed about how I’ve learned how important it is to be aware and organized, and how it’s important to realize what you’re good at, and what you’re not, and what you want to do, and what you don’t. But there’s more to it than that for me. Honestly, I don’t know that I could ever be a teacher full-time again. It’s incredibly emotionally tiresome to finish each day, and even though I go home and usually feel like I can put most of it away, it gets more difficult with the passing months, weeks, days. The kid who waited until grades were due to complain about something, the confusing schedule change, the knowledge that somebody else got to do something that you had hoped to do, it all gets harder to drop. Add that to the daily rush and shuffle of class and the way that some subjects and groups are just harder to get along with for whatever reason, and it’s a lot. I don’t need to be liked by everyone, that’s never something that I’ve expected to happen to me. But when you’re a teacher, you sort of have to act like everyonedoes, or you think they do, so that you can keep nodding, shrugging, smiling at the problems that arise each day.
At least, that’s what teaching is for me. I honestly have no idea what it’s like for other people. It is an incredibly rewarding experience and I can’t help but believe that God must truly have had a hand in sending me here. It’s also something, though, that I realize doubly with each passing day I can never do as a career. I want my own schedule, I want my own creative outlets. I used to think I was too scared for that, but I’m not anymore. I’m starving for the time to write my own work instead of grading or discussing what someone else wrote. I want to do my own acting instead of watching someone else do it on television. I want to make my own music instead of talking to my kids about who’s “cool” now (I’m already distant enough from them that I don’t always know).
I couldn’t readily stand up there and tell them that I don’t want to do this ever again; it would come across as snobbish, or rude, or arrogant….and I can see why someone might see that as my attitude. It’s easy to take offense to someone disliking what you love; I know that. However, it’s important to realize too that we all experience things in different ways. I think that what we learn from any experience, even teaching, is as important as what we give others. If that’s the case, I think I’ve learned far more than two years’ worth of new things in this time. I’m thankful for the chances I got to be a leader, for the kids and the teachers I’ve met here, and for the new things I’ve done and seen. I’m also thankful in an almost backwards way for the fact that being so busy made it so hard at times to do anything creative; especially this year, it made me realize how much I needed that instead of this.
It’s hard, but I have started telling people what I want to do. It used to feel stupid to tell people I wanted to act. It would remind me of my terrible experiences the senior year of high school when almost every time someone heard I wanted to study theatre, he or she responded with “oh, do you want to teach?” I suppose I was afraid that now, as a teacher, people would expect that this was all I wanted to do…not that it’s lesser, it’s just different.
So, if you’re wondering: I want to be an actor. I want to be a musician. And I want to be a writer. I’m going to do these things, and I’m probably not going to teach again for a long time. I have faith that this is what I’m supposed to do and no, I’m not going back to school first. I’m not interested in seminary. And no, I’m not too worried about the competition and yes, I’m aware that not everyone gets to be a star. I’ve thought a lot of these things for awhile; the change in me is that a couple of years ago, I might not have been willing to tell people about them.