Career Crossroads

After grading quizzes and study guides yesterday, it appeared that many, many students did not bother to fill in their study guide in class or even study for the quiz they knew about for a week...After receiving one too many snarky emails from colleagues...After realizing just how much I have to do on my thesis...I reached my breaking point. It happened last night on the phone with my parents when I cried as I told them I didn't know how much longer I'd be able to continue teaching because the stress is so much for my type A personality.....but last night I received that phone call that every teacher longs for: the snow day call.

It's been a much needed break. I stayed up until 1 AM to catch up on all my grading and edit student writing for our class blog. I slept in until 7:30 this morning, made snickerdoodle pancakes (they were amazing), drank a pot of coffee, and watched a few comedy shows while reading my new issue of Runner's World. I'm feeling better now, but I'm still conflicted. Here's why:

I love teaching. I enjoy impacting kids and presenting them with opportunities to think and engage. Seeing kids really connect with literature and writing just about brings me to tears. I love researching and implementing best practice in my classroom. But when kids don't engage, my job really sucks because of my takes-everything-to-heart, can't-shrug-much-off personality. I view student failure as my failure, which I know isn't necessarily the case. For many students, their lack of engagement in school is not their fault; it stems from their upbringing. It frustrates me that so many kids come to the classroom with baggage from broken homes or come from families who don't place a high priority on education. And while I know these students really deserve teachers who care and who pour their energies into them, I'm just not sure how much I have left to pour. I realize that part of this is my own fault. I've definitely bitten off more than I can chew---it's been my nature ever since I was a teenager. It's hard for me to pass up great opportunities to grow in my career since I really do have a passion for education. But as my professional circle grows and my resume lengthens, I have to wonder, is this what's best for kids?

Our guidance counselor at school has said to me so many times, "You can't meet the needs of others when you're own needs aren't met." My professional involvements bring me fulfillment, intellectual stimulation, and ultimately make me a more effective teacher in terms of content--but my socio-emotional needs are being compromised. I feel like I don't have near enough time to grow in my faith, spend with my husband, socialize with people, and simply relax. At times I tend to think that the aforementioned needs are frivolous, and that going without those will me me tougher and more productive. But each time I've gone with those needs unmet for a length of time, I breakdown.

I can't figure out if I love teaching or if I love education and improving the quality of it. I'm not sure that I can do both well and still have all of my own needs met. The next three to four months will definitely require lots of prayer and honest reflection.

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