I wonder if teaching is a once-a-blank–always-a-blank kind of occupation. I wonder if the penchant to provide instruction will occupy a permanent space in my heart. I’m two weeks removed from the decision to discontinue my position in education. I miss it, but it was time to move on. I felt it, for a few reasons, one of which was my inability to contribute one hundred percent. I had gotten there gradually. It started with the snooze button. It’s true. Where I once popped out of bed at the sound of my alarm, bursting with excitement, the day’s lesson plan flashing in my brain like a movie, I began pressing the snooze button. I’m convinced that button is a gateway to The Land of Disinterest. Things only worsened from that point. I got really diabolical and started hitting the snooze button three and four times. The excitement waned. More than that though, it decreased to foot-dragging proportions. If I could get away with adding emoji’s to my writing I’d put a sad face right here.
There were other reasons. It was more than just an erosion of excitement. But before I illustrate the negatives of my workplace environment, let me tell you the things I loved about my job. The students, of course. I learned from them as much as I taught them. Meeting new groups every three months or so was awesome. The voices I heard, the smiles I saw, the progress I witnessed in those classrooms are things forever etched in the fiber of my being. The jokes I’ve shared with my students will bring a smile to my face even 10 years from now. I also loved that I was able to teach in my own style, create lesson plans the way I deemed fit, with no interference from anyone, ever. I was left alone to do my job and, to an introvert, that is priceless. I was trusted to do my job effectively and, not to sing my own praises but, I did that. I put in time before and after classes that I wasn’t compensated for, which is fine. I just wanted to ensure that my students were content with their progress and satisfied with me as an instructor. I would give them all my personal phone number. They could reach me while doing their homework if they had a question. I was dedicated to them.
But those negatives, those blaring, offensive negatives, weighed on me, ultimately pulverizing the pleasure of pedagogy. Sorry for that tongue-twisting alliteration. I thought it sounded cool. Anyway, six years of working in the same place and everyone was still misspelling my last name. It’s not like my name is Rumplestilskin or something. It has six letters, V-a-r-e-l-a, pronounced vuh-reh-luh. It’s simple. It wasn’t a deal-breaker, but it irked me. Then there’s that other thing: I never got the code to the employee bathroom. “A small thing,” you’d say, and I’d say, “You’re correct,” but it’s still a slight. Honestly, I would likely have used the larger, more easily accessible bathroom that the students used anyway, which was very clean, but to know that I had access to the other restroom would have made the place more comfortable. Another reason for my growing discontent was this: A few times I woke up Friday morning to check my bank account only to realize that my “direct deposit” wasn’t deposited. What! This happened a few times over the past twelve months. The last time it happened I told my boss that I was not returning to work on Monday or ever again. I meant it. She corrected the mistake within 24 hours, but it was too late. To have to go to such extremes for my paycheck was the final straw. I would finish the semester and be gone.
And then there’s the issue of my work hours decreasing, but I feel as if I should cease with listing the negatives because you get the picture. I was in love with teaching but that feeling fizzled. Maybe it was only meant to be for a season, a long 6-year season. Maybe it’ll be rekindled in the future. Who knows? (God does) My job is to continue on with this life of mine. I will, and I’ll praise God the entire time.
To my students, if you’ve somehow come across this blog, I’ll say this: I valued every moment with you. I am thankful to have crossed paths with you. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to interact with you, to have learned from you. And as I reminded all of you on the last day of classes, your learning doesn’t stop just because classes have ended. You will continue learning throughout your life. You have a responsibility and obligation to yourself, to prepare yourself as best you can for the changing of life’s seasons. The seasons will inevitably change. The daylight grows to darkness then back again. The summer turns to snow. Through it all, keep learning from your experiences, and keep your head up. God bless.