To Teach….or Not To Teach?

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 21 2012

Perspective

Wow, I never thought I’d be writing in this blog again. And I didn’t actually think I’d say these words. I thought I could leave teaching, leave TFA and never look back. But…I miss teaching. For a month or so I was really depressed – about leaving teaching, Houston and my life. I started my new job and it was fine. But that’s just it. It was a job. Nothing else. I make money. I go to work. I come home. I eat dinner. I see my friends. But I don’t have any exuberant feelings of joy because a student told me they finally “get it,” I don’t cry out of frustration and confusion- but these things made me work harder, I don’t complain to my colleagues and other CMs about the injustice of education or that kid in my 8th period. And though I’m no longer anxious beyond repair, on the phone with my parents every night or exhausted to the point of falling over, I feel like there’s something missing.

I’m back in Oregon and it wasn’t easy moving back and starting a new life. I know I made the right decision to leave the school that I was at in Houston but with the possibility of starting over fresh at a charter school where many of my friends work in Houston and having support and help and a system that at least functions where no one is trying to make me quit… I am seriously considering returning to the classroom. I could finish out my job that I have now in the summer, pay off my parents for moving me home and move back and push the restart button. Is this crazy? I don’t know if I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life but the amount I learned in those 6 months with TFA is more than I ever learned in college or where I work now. I know I am capable of being a good teacher. Maybe not a great teacher. That could take years, as we all know. I will admit, however, that I am not cut out for an abusive administration and students throwing scissors at me.

However, if I were able to get this job at the charter school, I would want to return because I do believe in the fight against educational inequity and it’s something that I am passionate about. I haven’t felt that passion burning inside me since I left Texas. I want it back and I want to work with kids. I’m just being honest that I am ┬ánot cut out for the roughest of the rough as is outlined in my first entry. But I am willing to work my butt off.

If you have any feedback for me, it would be greatly appreciated. I have to decide by February if I want to accept my emergency release and return in the fall.

6 Responses

  1. At the risk of sounding harsh, teaching needs to be about what’s best for the students rather than about your feelings or ambitions. It’s possible your TFA placement was especially rough, but pretty much any teaching position worth taking is going to be highly challenging in its own way and part of being a professional educator is finding ways to deal with that. If you think there’s any chance you’d quit mid-contract again, then I would say you should not go back to the classroom. Volunteer as a part-time tutor or something to scratch that itch.

  2. els

    If you know what you’re getting into (if you know your new school fairly well) and know that you won’t be in a toxic situation again, than I would give it another shot. The thing with TFA is that you really have NO idea what you’re getting into. I’d be careful though — no matter how amazing your school is, you’ll still have those ups and downs.

  3. My immediate thought is COME BACK!! But I absolutely agree with these first two people. I reserve all judgement, and haven’t read your earlier entries to see why you left, but carefully consider exactly that. Why you left. And make sure it’s not something that will happen again.

    And once you’ve decided you are truly, really, very committed…. COME BACK!! :)

  4. Ms. Math

    You might try to get into teaching in a teacher education program-there are some great ones with high retention rates. They make it easier and less miserable to teach-I actually know people who didn’t want to lay down and cry for most of their first year because it went pretty well.

    It seems that there should be a happy medium between boring pointless jobs and toxic teaching.

  5. Ms. Math

    I think if you are willing to get into a (good) teacher education program and truly apply yourself to learn how to teach then it means you want to come back-if you want to jump right in again without learning more than when you left maybe it’s just a sign you are dissatisfied with your current job.

    • This is good advice. I completed a traditional teacher ed program after finishing my TFA commitment (I actually did all right in my classroom during TFA, but I over the course of the two years had become woefully aware of how much I didn’t know and what a disservice that was to my students), and I was a much better and happier teacher after that. Filled in a million little gaps in my knowledge, many of which I didn’t even know were there. Still totally ignorant, of course, but at least it gave me some grasp on the extent of my ignorance and how to begin addressing it. The training in working with students who have emotional disorders was particularly invaluable…not sure if that’s standard, but we spent a fair amount of time on it in my program.

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After an emergency release, I consider returning

Region
Houston
Grade
High School
Subject
English

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