Sunday, June 05, 2005

Time Flying

Last June, one year ago, I was still working at a temp job. Two, actually. One at a coffeeshop, the one I'd sworn up and down, on Hell and Earth, and more, to never return to. But when I was desperate, how quickly the pride, she does dissipate. The other was for an office, answering phones and filing. It was boring but decent money.

I gave myself the last week off, to plan, to pack, to worry, to say goodbye, all kinds of random things. I was worried about what I was getting into. I was excited about being in New Year. I was anxious about this new teaching thing.

But then I got just plain freaked out.

What the hell was I doing? Why was I moving three thousand miles away? I didn't know anyone! I didn't know anything! Certainly nothing about teaching! What if it was too hard? What if I hated it? What if I wanted to quit? What if I never found "my place" in the city? What if the whole thing was a stupid, idealistic move brought on by my seemingly-neverending quarterlife crisis? Surely taking this chance was better than staying at home, working two stupid jobs and being busy and a little bored? Which, truthfully, I considered for about two minutes. Because if I didn't do this "teaching" gig, what the hell else would I do? Will I never be a happy, well-adjusted, well-paid adult?

Guess what.

Twelve months later, I still have ALL those questions bouncing around in my head. Go figure.

--I really don't know why I moved three thousand miles away. I kept saying I wanted an adventure, something new. Well, fuck a duck, this has sure as hell been something new. Quite the damn adventure, definitely.

--I have definitely wanted to quit. It is to my own credit that only a few times has it really been a credible idea.

--I still know almost nothing about teaching, but amazingly, when I consider it objectively, I have improved muchly. I have helped a handful of students turn themselves around academically and a bit socially. (A few more have either escaped my encouraged, or actually regresssed, but I won't think about that.) I have made it almost entirely through one year of teaching. I have never (oh god, it's not over yet! Cross my fingers!) cried in front of my students. My classroom management, while still pretty minimal, is at least existent. I am thrilled about that!

--When people, including my own students, ask me if I like teaching, I roll my eyes and say dryly, ask me in a year. I don't think I hate the whole endeavor. God (and this blog) knows that I have hated a good number of individual days. The entire career/path/whatever, I really haven't decided if it's for me. I think that's because of the situation. I'm at a tough school, with very limited resources, albeit a nicely supportive administration behind me. I haven't found my inner "best teacher" yet, and I rather doubt that I will at this school. That is why all of my fantasies involve schools with nice, behaving students, computers in the classrooms, multiple copy machines, more teacher's choice funding, etc.

--I still have not found "my place" in the city. However, I am also thrilled that I have made at least two friends at my school. I was beginning to wonder if I would be lonely and alone forever. While I am still alone almost all the time, I do see those women every day and we hang out occasionally outside of school. There are three or four more women who I've seen "on the outside" at least once at social functions, which is pretty cool.

--Was this an idealistic, youth-inspired path? You bet your ass it was. Education appeals to me. It's important to me and my life, and should be to all people, young and old. I love learning new things and I also love imparting knowledge. (Perhaps that's why my social life has always struggled; I'm a helpless know-it-all. At least in this capacity it's useful and even encouraged!) I never wanted to be a teacher because I loved children or really related to them very well. For that reason, I'm glad that I ended up in middle school. I don't have to talk baby talk or significantly dumb down my vocabulary. (Although, I have REALLY had to dumb down my vocabulary this year. I get such a thrill when I can talk to an adult with a complex lexicon.)

--Will I be a lifelong teacher? Almost certainly not. Will I teach for more than two years? Not sure yet. Somewhere between two and thirty years. Will I ever be a super, fantastic teacher that singlehandedly increases the scores of ninety percent of her students? I certainly hope so. I think that will take time, obviously, and resources of various types. Can I stick it out? Who the hell knows.


Greg said...

Jules, I recently found your blog and I'm enjoying it. I have taught for four years and let me tell you, it never gets easier (I don't mean to bring you down, but it's true). As you noticed, though, there are certain things that make it worthwhile. I hope you stick with it for a bit, because it is nice to see the changes in students. Anyway, hello.

Anna said...

Hey! I've been reading your blog anonymously for awhile. I'm also a NYC transplant Fellow, just finishing up my second year. I teach 1st grade so it's a little different but most of the school frustrations are still the same. But I guess what resonates for me today is still not having found "my place" in the city. Would love to get coffee or somethign sometime if you're interested.

Jules the Crazy said...

NOOO!! Don't tell me that, Greg! It's GOT to get a little better!
Awesome links on your blog, very nice. :)

Anna, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one! Shoot me an email, maybe we can meet up one of these sunny, muggy days.