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I Believe…Help My Unbelief…

June 3, 2006

Mood: Trepidation

Song: "1-2-3"

Decisiveness has never been my forte.  Doesn't everybody fourth guess themselves?  Charles, on the other hand, makes decisions with an ease which astounds (and sometimes terrifies me too, I'll admit).  In our first year of marriage I've discovered that he often works out ideas by communicating them with his best friend/wife; thus, I know that with him the thought isn't always the deed, so I can hear him without immediately reacting by spiraling into a tailspin.  On the other hand, while I may may not seem thrilled initially, he recognizes that I simply need time to adjust and that I'm sure to see the logic in a little bit of time.  Thus, we balance each other, as marriage is intended to do. 

2005 was a year of change; 2006 has been comparatively tranquil.  Now I am faced with a further moment of challenge and I find myself unable to see beyond the immediate present to a successful resolution.  I became a teacher with the best of intentions, but I wonder whether or not I can survive another year with my ability to feel compassion unscathed (much less 30 'til retirement).  It is not that I fail to care about my profession or my students; it is that I care too much.  Ideally the educational system would value individuals (we're a nation founded on individualism, after all); the reality of a classroom of 30 students, however, the reality is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to find more than a few seconds to spend with each student before the rest of the class descends into nefarious acts of malfeasance.  To teach or not to teach:  that is the question.

I am an educator; it is more than a job…it defines who I am.  I know that I will continue to teach whether or not it is my profession.  I wonder whether the needs of specific students (particularly those at either end of the learning spectrum) are served at all by the public school system.  I've even dreamed of founding my own school for those who are not cut out to be "like stalks" so that they are not either stretched beyond their capacities or cut off to make the less able feel "special".  Unfortunately, our public schools are almost forced to see their precious students as numbers.  Don't even get me started on accountability (or No Child Left Behind); what sense does it make that teachers (and schools are judged by an arbitrary test that doesn't impact students?  How am I supposed to motivate them to care about what doesn't count (especially when legislators are too afraid of lawsuits to put teeth into NCLB by actually prohibiting students who don't meet the standards from graduating)?  It is no wonder teacher burnout is so common; I don't believe that I'm burned out yet, but I don't know what else to call this exhaustion of body and soul.  I've listed the pros and cons of job hunting outside of education.  I'm also practical enough to realize that just about anything else lucrative I could select will require more credentials (and we can't afford for me to take classes with Charles's school bills as well).  What to do, what to do? 

PROS:

1.  After the first year of teaching, everything else is downhill.

2.  I have a contract (unsigned as of yet-I don't want to breach), equalling security. 

3.  Good student aides make life much better.

4.  Charles is encouraging me to continue using my gifts (and credentials)

5.  Teaching gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that I've never been able to reach anywhere else.

6.  I am an effective teacher, whether my low self-image will allow me to acknowledge that or not

7.  Eye lyke Ynglish ande amm pashunate aboute itt. 

8.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

9.  My school (and my district) does value excellence.

10. I already have ideas for next year

11. It would be wonderful to see where my amazing students end up

12. I do care about my kids (all 150 of them)  

CONS:

1.  Stress, stress, stress

2.  After a year, I still feel like an outsider in my department

3. As previously mentioned, education in the public school system is far from ideal

4. It would be nice to come home and BE home, and teaching is far from a 9-5 job

5. I am interested in pursuing other options, in particular Library Science

6. Charles will finish with his Paramedic training in November and both of us are ready to leave Arizona; signing another teaching contract would keep us in Mesa through May of next year.

7. Parents of students can either build you up or destroy morale

8. It's difficult to be judged by how my students perform, particularly because I'm a bit of a control freak

9. 150 students = 150 essays to grade :(.

10. Not teaching would allow me to put in extra hours moonlighting (like tutoring 1-2 nights per week) which would definitely help with our finances

11. Teaching would mean taking further courses (about 45 hours) in Secondary English Immersion, which costs money we don't have

12. We want to start our family in the next couple of years; I respect those who put in the hours teaching requires with children but I don't want to attempt it myself.  Thus, if I do anticipate changing careers, now's the time to try before becoming a mother

Lord, I believe you have a plan; I don't necessarily see where I am headed, but I trust that you do.  I believe…help my unbelief.

JRW

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One comment

  1. I believe that the right path has become abundantly clear today. Some of you may not know that I orignially prayed for a sign about which school I should teach at. God, in typical amazing fashion, came through unexpectedly and unequivocably during my honeymoon. Thus, wracked with indecision, I prayed for another (and equally specific) sign to pinpoint that I should continue in my current position. Not only did that sign fail to materialize, but the original indicator was removed this afternoon in a dramatic fashion. I awoke this morning prepared to commit (and give my personal best) to this job for another year; as I post, however, I am ready, with a heavy heart, to resign without the security of another job. Thankfully I have yet to sign a contract, although difficulties may yet arise.



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