Once upon a time, I interviewed with a lovely lady for a position at a middle school. I told this lady that I planned to spend a little time teaching before moving on to my next career step, and she hired me anyway. A few weeks into that first year teaching, she asked, “So what does ‘a little time’ mean, anyway?” And, because she’d already hired me, it was too late to go back now, I told her the truth: “Two years,” I said.
Cut to five years later, and where am I? Still in my classroom, now with this on my desk:
And yeah, I DID unwrap it to put it on my desk. My furniture is not the covered-in-plastic type. More the covered-in-dog-hair-and-paper-scraps-and-dear-lord-is-that-a-spray-paint-splotch type. I’m a middle school teacher. I’m pretty sure I reached my limit for saying, “This is why we can’t have nice things” sometime around October this year.
And with that, I’ll point out that I’m clearly on the other side of two years and planning on saying in education for at least a little while longer. I’m not sure what went wrong with the 2-year plan, except maybe having a plan in the first place. Because really, teaching is like a cult or a black hole or crack addiction or something with a positive connotation that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. I mean, I have a hard time going cold turkey during the summers, which is why I find myself signed up to teach summer school yet again in a few weeks.
The end of the year is always hard for me. But this year is a little more rough for a number of reasons, the least of which is my dilemma about what I will/should/want to be doing next year.
Still, it’s hard to regret where I am this week when I look back at the past five years. They have not been easy in any way, but I wouldn’t trade them because they’re what’s gotten me to believe in myself enough to tackle some of the biggest challenges of my life.
What’s the biggest contributing factor to that? I’m not sure.
There’s a long list of contenders: a steady job, owning a house, therapy, building my self-confidence, contributing to society, making adult decisions, losing weight, picking a grad degree, becoming a surrogate mother to at least one kid a year…I’ve done so many things that it’s hard to say where the effects of one change stops and another one starts.
Suffice it to say that as I wrap up my fifth year in the classroom, my fifth year after graduating from Mizzou…
…I’ll be thinking about all of this a lot. And maybe I’ll find an answer – or maybe I’ll need another couple of years to really discover it.
What I can say is that I can’t put a timeline on it. And so, though I’m moaning and groaning about being at my school for longer than over half the current staff and turning another year older next week, I’m not as upset as I perhaps should be that two years turned into five.
After all, five always has been my favorite number.