March 31, 2012

Do you still feel the love?

My job hasn’t appeared here much in the last year, which may seem a little odd given how much I’ve said I love it. Throughout the years teaching has inspired and energized me. It seems the more energy I exude, the more energy I get in return from my students and the laws of nature. I’ve always worked hard in finding activities and tasks for my students so they can practice and improve. I’ve been so keen on professional development and learning new things, including materials and theories. Most often than not, I’ve woken up in the morning looking forward to class. Even on those odd days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, upon walking into my classroom and seeing a smiling face 9or faces) my mood changed. That is until last year.

Last year I was growing weary of trudging through the snow and cold from office building to office building. My wheely bag proved to be a disadvantage in the snow as it began acting like a snowplow and strained my arms in pulling it around. I thought I’d be happier with a set classroom, but when March appeared and I got a full-time student my happiness didn’t return.

My student was a lovely woman who was so keen, motivated, outgoing and intelligent. She would do anything I asked her and she not only did it quickly, she did it very well too. She was improving rapidly, which is normally a wonderful experience, but she was going through 2 days of materials in 1 day. Not only was I exhausted from 40 hours of teaching, but the additional prep time took up any free time I had. My weekly plan lasted only a few days and each evening I found myself doing a new lesson plan and digging around for more activities for the following day. My emotions were in conflict. I was excited and happy for my student for picking up details and parts of speech so quickly and with such accuracy; however, I was frustrated because lessons were constantly being rewritten because the work and activities were no longer needed – she didn’t need the additional practice like other students do.

So here I was, exhausted and unhappy. Often I would feel very guilty. Here, I had this wonderful person across from me and I could only think ‘Why am I here?’, ‘I don’t want to be here; Anywhere but here.’, ‘I just want to be back in bed.’. Thankfully my student was too busy learning to notice that her teacher wasn’t always happy. Once summer came along I took a bit of a break and worked for the summer program again. I was lucky enough to work at a school where they were understanding of my other commitments (I had committed to the summer program in the new year) and it allowed another English teacher to have full time hours in a period that is normally slow. But again, being a Pedagogical Advisor for the summer didn’t help. Instead I became increasingly frustrated with teachers who didn’t listen, others who didn’t want to be part of a team (Hey, there’s no ‘i’ in team!!), and a boss who was out to lunch most of the time (literally and metaphorically). When I returned to my smiling and cheerful student I felt even more despondent instead of feeling refreshed. When the contract came to an end in November I was relieved.

I was looking forward to having two weeks of free time to do whatever I wanted. I could do some painting and finally finish up the trim around the doors. I could do some baking and cook The Honey some nice meals. I could get out and get some exercise, finally. Those plans went up in smoke, unfortunately. I got a really bad cold and wound up on the couch. Two weeks later when I visited my doctor I learned half of the problem was my asthma returned with a vengeance. After being inhaler-free for close to 7 years I was now sucking on two types of puffers and lying on the couch due to my poor health. Ironically, I was even more exhausted than before, but this time from lack of oxygen in my body and not from lack of time. If my energy was up one day and I did something (like go to the grocery store or do a few errands) I was exhausted a few hours later and had to have a nap for a few hours. Even last month I went for a walk with my sisters and the next morning I was dragging myself around. My asthma seems to be on the mend though. The Honey noticed on the weekend that I was hardly coughing anymore, finally. He had been growing weary of it as well.

Throughout the winter I continued feeling like a fraud, teaching a few hours here and there without feeling much of anything other than the new usual. I always had a smile on my face, but inside it was the opposite. Often I would cry when I got home, sometimes even on the walk home I would burst into tears because I no longer knew what to do (slightly embarrassing, but at least there were few people out and about in the cold temperatures). My degree was set to lead me into teaching and for the last 15 years that’s what I’ve done; and I’ve loved it. But what would I do? In a sense my options are wide open, but they aren’t that open. My health has been a bit of a crap-shoot these last 12 months and I’m not sure I can handle the intensity of some jobs (my arthritis has also been acting up). And a desk job? Not unless I have to. I did that for a few years and I was worse off then than I am now (thank goodness for Yoga).

In February my mood began to change. I had come to a decision. I’m leaving my job and teaching and am on the search for something that I will enjoy and in turn make me a little happier, even if it is for a short time. And when I find the right job for me, I’ll stick with it for a while. Who knows, maybe another 15 years in a new career.


Psychgrad said...

Sounds like a transitional time for you. I wonder if some of the physical issues (asthma, arthritis) are brought on by the stress of being unhappy in your work.

Good luck with finding the next steps.

Pickles said...

That is one connection I didn't make, and you may just be right. Since making this decision I've been sleeping better so you just never know sometimes.

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