How many days has it been since I mentally rehearsed my “I quit” speech?
Zero, zero, zero.
Yet I persist. I don’t know why. It defies all logic that I’ve let myself get put into the situation that I have.
Don’t get me wrong. I want so badly to both impart knowledge and support students in their growth. I love education. I believe in it. I’m trying to go back to school myself to learn more–to become more before I collapse in on myself for lack of betterment. And to be a better teacher.
I am currently teaching, as I may have mentioned, outside of my curriculum. It has been the hardest year of my life.
The highest math I ever had was MT 121 my freshman year of college. Of course I took two rounds of social statistics, but that doesn’t quite count. I spent (and still regularly spend, though not with the same frequency) hours working to reteach myself four concepts a week so that I can disseminate that knowledge on to my kids. I want to do right by them, even though I feel deficient. I never feel like I’m doing good enough. It’s hard for me to make them see the importance of fractions, irrational numbers, and angle sums when I question daily how I let myself become a math teacher.
Every day is an exercise in ego death. I wish I could say that at least my classroom management is perfect, but it is not. I have struggled with everything this year. Yes, it’s my first year, but I started off too yielding, too understanding, too soft. I’ve let myself be taken advantage of and everyone knows it. I can’t think about it too much or I feel so ashamed. I’ve tried to toughen up to survive these last few weeks.
I promise: I never went into this expecting it to be easy. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be taxing and there would be a lot of late nights.
I didn’t expect to cry every day for six months, though, or to work every night for weeks until I pass out from sheer exhaustion, surrounded by half-complete paperwork. Or to feel so alone while I go at it.
I haven’t had much of a personal life since school started in August. I’ve went out three times since then: once as the designated driver, and twice recently for a friend’s birthday. Every time, I’ve wondered why I let my personal life fall to ruins. I miss having friends and seeing them and not going from work to home. I don’t even really go to the store these days thanks to Amazon Prime. It’s so pathetic.
I’m thankful that this is only a year-long contract. The kids need someone that is more comfortable with math than I am, and I need to teach in one of the other three fields I’m both certified for and more knowledgeable about. I accepted this long-term substitute position because there was a dire need. I wanted to make a difference to my students, the security of a nice paycheck every two weeks, and a routine that was more predictable and structured than substituting day-to-day–and please don’t mistake me for an ungrateful person. I am so grateful that I do have a job and that I can pay my bills. I know that a lot of people don’t have that. I am fortunate.
I cannot, however, say that I would go into it again knowing what I now know. When I accepted, I was told by the county board that it would be one singular subject of math, that I would have help with every aspect, and that I would be furnished with everything (resource and supply-wise) I need.
Let me stress that I cannot complain about my school–the staff and administration are wonderful, truly. I have made some genuine friends this year. When I ask a colleague for help, I receive it. That said, I am ‘on’ from 1st period to 7th every day when my last class filters out. My planning period falls at the end of the day from 2:00 to 2:45–which I like–but that makes it inconvenient to seek out another teacher and request help when I am swamped with forms to fill out, papers to grade, parents to contact, excuses to turn in, tests to create, lesson plans to write, etc, etc, etc, and I know that my coworkers are as well.
I just wish I had been better prepared going into this. I do have co-teachers for two of my classes. When I can ask for help, I get it. I still can’t shake the feeling, though, that I’m a massive failure and can’t do anything right.
I don’t think it’s any secret to the people in my life that I have been operating under pretty steady depression and anxiety since last year. It’s been an on and off thing since I was 14, but being a workaholic shut-in has been a horse of a different color. I have kept on, expecting things to get better in time, but there’s always this raw, pulsating nerve lying under the surface of everything I do and say, reminding me of everything I haven’t done and said.
This has turned out to be so much longer than I intended. I’ve been holding a lot of it inside and, sadly, I could go on for hundreds of more words.
It may seem as though I’m really disenchanted with my job. I guess I am. That’s fair. I wish a lot of it was different or that I had acted/reacted differently to a plethora of situations that I’ve encountered this year. I’m going to try and chalk it all up to a very valuable learning experience and remember what made me crazy this year so that when I’m doing something different next year, I can hopefully do better for myself and more importantly, my kids.