For a long time now, I’ve been worried that I was never going to be back in the classroom. After all that happened to me at CHS, I was feeling pretty burned; for all that the place was pretty laid-back and permissive, I still managed to get into trouble, so it stands to reason that it’s highly unlikely I’m going to find someplace where my enthusiasm, passion, and ethics won’t be a liability.
I met Jay for coffee this afternoon. He’s a teacher at a different charter school (and a hell of a photographer; hit that link and go on over and click around. Leave some feedback; he’s looking for some interaction), and the parent of one of my former students. We’d been tangentially in touch since before I was dismissed from CHS; he and I clicked when we first met, he was very supportive of my efforts to kick his recalcitrant daughter in the ass, and we share a very similar perspective on politics, spirituality, and the underlying purpose (and ethics) of education. Anyway, I left a comment on his blog about a particularly stunning portrait he’d posted of Sweet Pea, and a few emails later, we’d set up a coffee date.
I left that hour feeling much better about where I am professionally. He told me a lot of things I really needed to hear (though, let’s be clear, I don’t think for a second that he said them because they were what I needed to hear; he’s not like that at all). He confirmed for me a couple of things that I deeply suspected but really didn’t want to admit (I’m over that now, by the way; I’m done telling myself stories to try to make it hurt less). He told me that not only should I go back to teaching, but that I very likely had to; we share a proclivity of spirit that compels us to work with young people, and he recognizes in me the same drive that moves him to do the work that he does. He essentially told me that I wasn’t going to be happy doing anything else – that I could do other work, certainly, but that I would never be as fulfilled as I will be teaching. I don’t think he’s wrong.
Jay also offered me a glimmer of hope that there may well be a place for me in a classroom. I’m going to chase down a couple of contacts tomorrow (and send out a couple of resumes, as well) and see what becomes of it. While I’m not going to force myself into a situation where I have to change who I am to fit in with the culture so much that I don’t recognize myself anymore, neither am I going to give up entirely on the idea of being a teacher. The truth is that I miss the kids too much to abandon the work, and I love who I am while I’m doing it.