There comes a time in everyone's life, when they realize that what they've been doing just isn't working anymore; that it is time to jump off of the safety bridge and hope to God that the river underneath is deep and wide.
That time came this morning.
When I started teaching, statistics warned that the "good ones" left the profession after five years; I recently heard that it has been dropped to four. Thanks to a tremendously supportive department, principal, and school district, I've managed to make it into my ninth year.
It has been creeping in on me; I've known it was coming.
Every year, it gets a little bit more frustrating to see kids more worried about Friday than their futures. To see students preach about their desire for high grades and graduation and then sleep through the class. To see them rendered helpless by their ADD labels and lack of understanding. And yet, these things are not the hardest part of this job. The hardest part is not the behavior, the fighting, or the pregnancies.
The hardest part of this job is looking into the eyes of my students and knowing that they are products of their environment; that our society, the one we, adults, have all had a contribution in building and actively help to sustain, has done this to them. We have raised them and we have taught them and we have rewarded them.
This isn't a post about what needs to change in education, though there is a lot. This isn't a post about how kids are unempowered, uninspired, and unmotivated, though too many are. This isn't even a post about how over-worked, under-appreciated, and scapegoated teachers are, we are not victims.
This is a post about my journey. I knew what I was getting into when I graduated college armed with a degree in Education and started applying for teaching jobs. My first full time job was at a drop-in youth center, my first teaching job an inner-city high school, my current is an alternative school. I find "those" kids inspiring. I find the challenges rewarding. I find the objective worthwhile.
And yet, I am done.
I love what I've done for the last eight and half years. I love the kids, each one for what they bring to the table. I know that I make an impact and I hope that my student's lives are better because of something I've taught or the example I've set. I've learned so much from my students, they have been tremendous teachers themselves. My greatest wish for my students is that they realize the power inside of themselves, though them I have been able to realize mine.