[After writing this post it sounds sort of depressing. I want to preface it by saying that I am having the time of my life teaching. It is an incredible amount of work, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.]
Today is a special day; it marks the day of being exactly half way done with my credential program (time wise of course, not experientially). I just finished my last presentation of the last paper I had to write. I realized that this week I have turned in three essays totaling about ninety-five pages (though thirty-five were appendices, title pages, and tables of contents). I never thought of myself as much of a writer, but I guess times change.
So how would you celebrate this feat? I think I am going to celebrate by getting sick. Well, maybe celebrate is the wrong word. I merely haven’t allowed myself to be sick in a while because I know that that given the amount I was working that it would completely destroy me. I have felt this coming for a long time, but now I don’t have any important reason to why I need to be in peak health.
In any case, now that I am done with this hellish week I can take a moment to step back and think about my experiences teaching. I have observed my CT and my school a lot this semester. My school is definitely a unique place. One of the defining characteristics of my work environment is that the teachers essentially run the school and that they work incredibly hard for their students. Often times my host teacher is still at the high school by the time I get out of classes from graduate school. It seems like he is constantly at the limit of what he can humanly do. The amount of time he puts into his job outside of the actual teaching part is phenomenal (he once told me that the only time he doesn’t feel stressed out is when he is teaching). The funny thing is that I don’t think he is unique. I have heard similar sentiments from many others about how much work there is when you’re teaching the way you really want to.
Often times in the past few years I would find myself thinking that my goal as a teacher is to provide my students with the best education possible. Recently I have been second guessing my definition of what exactly is ‘possible.’ I can’t help but wonder whether or not the education I want to give to my student requires that I give up every single other aspect of my life; whether or not the way I want to teach will require me to schedule sick days so they fit into my calendar.
It seems to me that the fact of the matter is that teachers aren’t underpaid – they’re overworked. What if I had only forty students? Could I provide the best possible education then? What if I could provide assistance to every student when they come asking for it. What if I didn’t have to sacrifice attention to one student just so I could help another? Would things be better then? I know that none of this is going to happen in the foreseeable future, but it’s just a thought.
I feel like I am in a double bind. On one hand, I want to do everything in my power to be a good teacher. On the other hand, I don’t want to burn myself out or sacrifice my own life to my profession. Are these two goals at all compatible? Sometimes I wonder if I really want my job to be the only feature of my identity. Given my personal goals, I can’t help but question whether or not this is inevitable.
What do you do?