When I was in second grade, I decided to be a teacher, and I stayed true to the course. I have been a high school English teacher for 33 3/4 years. One reason for this blog is to find my way into retirement in another year. I decided to break this entry into two parts -- the things I will and won't miss about teaching.
Here are the things I won't miss:
- boring faculty meetings, especially the ones with Powerpoint presentations with lots of data. I'm an English teacher; I don't do numbers.
- teacher evaluations. I've seen the process change very often and one thing is always the same: no one is ever happy about it or with it.
- faculty lounges where teachers complain about their students. We all have bad students who get on our nerves, don't work, sleep in class, etc.However, I think the lounge should be a place to get away from all of that. This time away from the classroom may be the only time I get to laugh all day, so when the conversation gets negative, I just leave the room.
- grading papers. When I was just beginning my career, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a set of papers to grade so I could enter the scores in my extremely neat gradebook. Now I teach dual-enrolled college composition English to high school seniors. There are always essays to grade. Gradebooks have gone away because of computers.
- the obvious -- the alarm clock; picking out something to wear every day; traffic lights that slow my trek to work in the morning; carrying heavy tote bags; making lunch; a dining room table covered with my laptop and papers to grade.
- Sunday Night Syndrome. That's what I call it anyway. It's the stress that starts building up around 4:00 on Sunday afternoon when I realize that I have to go to school the next day. Then begins the rush of thoughts -- What are my lesson plans? Did I make copies of everything I need? Did I grade all of the papers I brought home? Is there food for lunches next week? and on and on.
Here are the things I will miss:
- students. Most people would think I wouldn't miss them at all; however, I figured out they keep me in touch with all the latest of everything. How will I know about the latest waste-of-time app on my smartphone? Who will tell me the best young adult novels to read or the most popular songs to listen to?
- my friends. Work relationships are close ones while you are together. I mean, we are in the trenches fighting the same battle for 180 days, year after year. But I know I'll lose touch with these people because their endless quest to stamp out ignorance will continue whereas mine will end.
- having a captive audience. A teacher is an actor and her classroom is her stage. I have made 30 teenagers listen in dead silence as I explain why an author chooses certain names for the characters in his story, as I tell them about pronoun-antecedent agreement which they swear no one has ever taught them before, or as I teach them that writing an essay isn't rocket science as long as they learn the formula. They look at me like I'm telling them the secrets of the universe. Whose ego wouldn't miss that?
I know I'll adjust and be just fine. I might even find another job that doesn't involve grading essays. For the first year, however, I plan to just quietly exist.