"It seems her career there was very honourable: from a pupil, she became a teacher, like yourself..." ~ Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre begins her career as a teacher, but we all know she does not end her career in the capacity of a teacher. I always knew that I would not retire a teacher and have vocalized this fact. The most influential people in my life are renaissance people who have had multi-faceted careers based on their passions.
Passion is a motif that I try to teach my students each day through characters and text; I work to ignite passion each day, whether I am working to have a student form a passionate opinion or encouraging students to choose paths that best suits their passions.
Unfortunately, someone is failing the lesson, and it is me.
It is quite easy to romanticize the life of an English teacher. Perhaps there are the visions of a woman wearing glasses with a pencil stuck in her hair, tying her bun together. Perhaps there are images of a woman who is reading Shakespeare in front of a classroom with students actively participating and caring about the plot of the play. The woman comes to work in the morning to a bright and sunny room with portraits of Steinbeck and Stein on the walls, and the students enter the classroom polite and eager to learn. Field trips are arranged to museums and theatre. Hallways are filled with positive energy and camaraderie amongst students. Conversation is active, smiles are abundant, and the teacher is met with constant support by her administrators. In her free time she reads and goes to see a play. Her summers off are spent at the beach, and she takes vacations during the school's recess for President's Week.
I invite you for a moment to take off the rose-colored glasses for a glimpse of what the truth is in my classroom. In my heart I believe that there are actual English teachers like the one I just described, but they are so few and far between; a dying breed. I am not speaking for all in this post, but I am speaking for many.
The truth is that my students are apathetic to literature. This generation is the television an video game generation; they don't know how to sit down and read because their parents handed them a remote control instead of a book. There is no camaraderie in the hallways; my district has a task force now for gang awareness. Even if there were no gangs, there would be no socializing because students have headphones in their ears from their IPODS. For those that do fraternize, their language makes one think one is in a gutter and not in a place of academia. Now that tracking has been dismantled, self-contained classes cut because of budget issues, and inclusion classrooms are not being set up properly to succeed, I spend a good deal of the period being a disciplinarian and not teaching. I don't trust my students enough to take them on a field trip. Many of the parents in this community are just as disrespectful and impolite as their children are. The physical conditions in my building are abysmal; I joined the Health and Safety committee this year in hopes to make changes, but I was met with excuses and bureaucracy. I work summers because my salary is not enough to carry me through the two months I am off.
I am not complaining. I am merely stating facts. After six years of teaching, I have a sixth sense that this profession is not making me feel professional. I teach about passion, but lately I feel as though I don't practice what I teach.
I have become dispassionate about teaching.
There are pockets here and there that I still love, but it is not enough to make me stay here for much longer. Guilt tends to surface here and there in my mind, but I know myself well enough to know that whatever path I choose, it will involve either giving to others or educating others.
I sat in Fourbucks during lunch and stirred my coffee as swirls of ideas about career paths went through my head. I have been collecting ads and addresses to send my resume to, all of which are enticing: MOMA, Random House, the AGBU, the History Channel. The best part about all of this is I have so many options because of what being a teacher entails. If I can do teach high school English for six years, I can do just about anything. I have all the time in the world to search, and the idea of the process excites me.
So I take the grave away from the "e" in resume and see the word resume.
As in, resume a path in my life that is a path filled with passion.
Reader, welcome to my life.
- Name: ThursdayNext
- Location: New York, United States