Teaching is tough, but is it this tough?

Stressed-teacher-460x276Since this is the weekend and I don’t normally blog on the weekends, I thought I would share this. I found this when I was surfing through some teaching blogs. I have felt like this on many occasions, but have stuck with it. Some days I do wonder though. Check it out and see what you think.

I don’t want to teach anymore. This has been a long time in coming, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer with every minute I’m in the classroom.

I always figured this would happen. For three years, I’ve wondered whether I hated my job. I’ve waffled. I’ve focused on the positive aspects, of which there are many. I’ve viewed it as a test of my resolve, which it certainly has been.

Still, beneath all of that, I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that I would one day wake up, look back on the last three years, and realize that teaching has ruined my life. I think that happened recently.

Well, teaching has ruined my life. It stresses me out and puts me in irredeemably ugly situations, having conversations with students that I’d never want to have with any human beings. It’s contributed plenty to my depression. My first year, it wracked my body and my emotions; I came home every night completely drained, angry, bitter, and afraid. So I didn’t cry. So I perservered. For what? I lost my engagement. I lost my happiness. Who really won that battle?

Every day after school, my body and brain are tired. I have been in so many intense situations that I don’t have anything left. I am a zombie. This is true of many jobs, but I’m guessing, hoping, praying that there is at least one job out there where I can be useful and still come home and be human. I owe it to myself to find out.

So I’ve learned to do it better. I can control a classroom. I can keep teenagers in line. I hate doing that. I have never wanted to be a disciplinarian, or an authority figure, or anybody who tells anybody else what to do. I can stand in a classroom, beat my chest, and convince a student to stop talking. Why? That is ugly. That is not me.

Performing is not me. I wish it were, but it’s not. I am tired of performing, or rather, pretending to be a performer. At this point in my life, I am not cut out for standing in front of a class. I can do it. I have done it. But it is not natural. I am forever a sentence away from running out of things to say. I am not a talker. I can teach, I can run a classroom, but I do not feel cut out to inspire. I feel like a fraud up there. I need to find a job where I do not feel like a fraud.

Mostly, I am tired of holding back the flood. If I let my guard down, they go crazy. If I don’t have the perfect comeback, if I don’t handle the situation without losing face, then all respect for me is lost. If I am not consistently interesting or hard-ass, they hate the class. I’ve proven that I can prevent all of these things. I have a million tricks for keeping them interested, for keeping them in line, for keeping them from acting like the jerks they become when they are bored. Why? Because someone has to? Fine. I don’t want to be that someone anymore. It takes such an energy and resolve and spark, and I think I’ve run out of it. I don’t want to be on point every second. I need a job where I can work my ass off physically, or do mental work at a slower pace. No more endless electric shocks to the brain.

Somebody has to do the job. The kids can’t sit alone in a room. Students can’t educate themselves. It is a necessary job. It just can’t be mine anymore.

This could just be my usual mid-year slump. February is the doldrums. So is March. I felt this way last year, and I bounced back and enjoyed the beginning of the year. I can do the same next year. But why? It is an endless cycle. Act imposing, become somebody I’m not, perform for these kids and convince them that I am worth listening to, keep my credibility every second or it all falls apart, and then again and again and again.

I am not saying teaching is the hardest job in the world. Any job where you have to deal with the public will have its unpleasant moments. Plenty of jobs are non-stop craziness and stress. Teaching is not harder than these jobs. I just don’t think teaching is me anymore, if it ever was.

I have loved so much about teaching. Teenagers, at their best, are wonderful. They are sweet. They keep me on my toes. They are capable of offhand kindnesses that I’ll remember for months. They are fun to work with. The job really does energize me in the moment. There are so many reasons why it is better than doing paperwork. But I feel like it is killing me, and I have to stop. I’ll take less excitement and fulfillment, at least for a while.

Am I just chickening out? Am I just sick of work? There’s no solution to that. I have to keep working. But I can change jobs. Each one will have its stresses. If I want to contribute worthwhile things to the world, there will be problems along the way. I will have to deal with jerks. I will have to perform. But maybe not this way.

Maybe I will come home just as stressed. Maybe I will encounter office politics and a jerky boss. June and July could come around and find me working. Scary. For now, though, that is just talk designed to frighten me away from pursuing a new life. My job will work for me instead of running my life. I need to try this.

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