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Why oh Why? AKA the 7 Year Itch of Teaching

As a teacher I am often asked, "Why did you go into teaching?" Most people answer altruistically with, "I want to change our future," or "I love working with children," or "I want kids to feel they're important." My answer (when I answer truthfully) is always less altruistic and more self-centered...

"I was working on my Masters heading into the PhD program. For personal reasons, I moved back to California, started working at the university and realized I lived in a 9-month calendar year. Summer months were unbearable in an office. I looked online what jobs don't work during the summer, saw teaching as an option, applied to the program and got in. The rest is history."

Yep...I chose my profession because I couldn't handle waking up during the hot season at a proper adulting-time. (For the record, I could also barely stand working 40 hours a week and remembered calling my mom and asking, "how have you been able to do this your whole life?) I couldn't muster the strength to work 8-5 during the hot summer months knowing that I could very well be floating in the pool or watching The Price is Right while eating my Lucky Charms. Big girl decisions made primarily on small girl ideals.

So here I am seven years long years...but somewhat short if I think of how fast it went by. I think of my first year when I became pregnant with my first child and my students threw me a surprise shower. I think of my third year where I left children I love without being able to tell them I was moving to the high school and I would see them in a year when they became freshmen. I then think of year five and six....both years where I considered quitting and almost walked out mid-year.

I think of last year...the year I bonded unexpectedly with a student, who I now consider family and who opened my heart beyond what I ever wanted. The open heart and the deep feelings for the student made me also consider quitting--why would I put myself through this lifestyle? I never thought I would ever actually consider some of these children, adulting people. It's not clear if my crossroads is because of my close bonds to the students, my frustration with the politics in the profession, or because of my genetic gypsy feet that I have to temporarily bandaid with a rearranged living room rather than a drastic life change.

At the beginning of the year I encountered the message "what's your why?" several times at different points among different crowds. Today, my "why" is like a fresh coffee stain on a white shirt right before I try to teach prepositions to a class of 15 year olds. It's front and center where everyone can see it. My close teacher friends know I'm not happy, but not unhappy. My students who have had me each year tell me, "you're not yourself Miss B." And students who I have had since sixth grade say, "you know you're going to have to quit after we leave." There's no denial, but no solution either.

So as I sit here figuring all of this out, I will end with this...I came across another self-interest survey on Twitter the other day. It was from Forbes Magazine and talked about harnessing your "character strength" which will ultimately guide your life professionally and make your feel more fulfilled. I took the survey and my number one came back to no surprise....Creativity. My inner self needs to be in a creative world that allows for my love of relationships and gypsy feet to feel like they're both driving the bus on my professional road.

Here's to being a passenger on the bus and hoping it parks in the right spot.

Forbes article "Know Your Why-4 Questions to Tap the Power of Purpose"

Character strength survey (p.s. it's free...remember I'm a teacher and don't like to pay for shiza)

#teaching #students #crossroads #personaldevelopment

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