Creating a Career
On the other end of the timeline as Judd, here I go, entering year ten of teaching tomorrow. What?
I never thought that I would be a teacher for this long. Honestly. Going into this career was a combination of luck, desperation during the 2009 recession in finding a job, and a lot of improvisation; pretending to be knowledgeable and good at something that I never actually thought I would pursue. But here were are! Year 10! Holy smokes.
Our teacher work week last week was productive, albeit flew by. We had a combination operational staff meetings, team meetings and time to work in our rooms. Myself and my co-worker were interviewed for The Now News on Monday afternoon about our Amazon wish lists which added some exciting momentum at the beginning of the week! Check it out here.
As hard as I try each year to bring positivity and a refreshed perspective to my job, it feels like it doesn’t take long for old habits to return. The tired, laborious tasks and and monotonous messages come across, and issues that you thought were resolved at the end of last year seem to come up again. I tried several things to make the year less predictable; tried to rearrange my office, tried to start a new exercise routine before school, tried to change up my slides and syllabi. But in the desire to be efficient with my precious time and existing resources, this tenth year is starting to look pretty similar to recent preceding years. And I guess that’s okay.
Having worked in a different school this summer, I do feel like I got a glimpse of what it might be like to leave my school or my district. And there were definitely some positives and some negatives. I liked the work I did at Sky Vista Middle School in Cherry Creek Public Schools, but I realized that the work happened in a beautiful bubble of summer work that was completely self led and designed by teachers. The everyday operations of a school and the rest of the study body’s culture were not there to give me the full picture of what it is like to work there.
Six years at the same school lends itself to a lot of comfort, which saves time at the beginning of the year. You know where the printers, copiers, teacher’s lounges are. You see several familiar names or sibling’s names on your roster for each class. You know who to talk to, who not to talk to, how the dynamics in the workplace roll, there is not too much unknown. But it also leaves little to the imagination or to our creative devices as to how the year will go. Of course, the students are always changing, they bring different energies and stories and interests to each class. But for the most part, we as the teachers are the constant, and we have to find ways to bring a new attitude into our classrooms with each new year.
Often I wonder if I have challenged myself professionally enough by staying put for so long. I wonder what else I have to offer and if I really am giving it my all each school year that I stay. I have added on different leadership opportunities for myself, and tried new projects each year that excited me and keep me motivated about the job. I have put myself out there in the interest of other jobs or positions in the district. But ultimately when I weigh the pro’s and con’s, I find myself appreciative of the norm. Especially in my current stage of life and where my priorities lie, I am glad I am not ridden with the anxiety that occurs on the first Sunday night before the first Monday (or if you work in Brighton, the first Tuesday!) of the job.
More importantly, I love the community that I work with and their openness and reflectiveness on global education. That was something I never thought I would find myself so passionate about, and will always be a part of my teaching pedagogy even if I am not in an international studies school. I appreciate my staff and administration and their respect and value of me as a teacher and as a person, as I have changed, got my master’s, got married, had a baby and grown up as a teacher in DCIS. I do believe they push me to continue to make my impact at the school and support my ideas and goals that I have for my program there. I love the students I teach, and their curiosity, bravery and willingness to venture to new territories with me, to laugh with me, cry with me and be patient with the days I am learning more from them than I am imparting as their instructor. I also simply appreciate some of the predictability. It saves me a lot of time and energy to know exactly how the school ticks and so I have more time to be with my family and take care of myself. I also have found that I like being revered as a ‘veteran teacher’ and to feel like an integral part of the inner-workings of our school as well as help new teachers who join our team each year.
So as begrudgingly as I am to go back after a beautiful and full summer, I realize what I have and how good it actually is. We talked about a concept called IKIGAI at our theatre and dance trainings, and how our jobs should be a balance of what we are good at, what we love, what we are paid for and what the world needs. I love this idea because it has made me think about each of those spheres and where I can feel depleted at times. While we can control our passions and skills, we can’t always control the needs of the world and how we are compensated for what we do. But upon further reflection of this search for balance, I feel pretty fulfilled in each sphere. I am lucky to say I am a part of something important and can celebrate our successes, feeling ownership in the good. But also realize the work there is left to do as each school year comes and goes and new students walk through the door and have different needs and areas of deficiency. I am excited and nervous to get started on this tenth year, but proud to have put ten years into this career.