I wasn’t a great teacher. I was a good listener, but I wasn’t a truly great teacher. I guess I was a good tutor. Maybe I was a great teacher at times, but not much of the time. Sometimes I had not a clue what I was doing. I blame myself a little bit, but more than anything else, I blame a system where there was no curriculum, only standards. Furthermore, I want to blame the divide that exists between K-12 education and the college/university level.
The K-12 level is now rife with politically-fueled tension because of oversight and control by outside groups and special interests that do not know the real motives, goals and abilities, and even the dreams and future goals of teachers and students. The special interests focus solely on the dollars and making themselves better while students and teachers only feel more bitter because of those decisions.
The college/university level is the home of dreamers and believers in new and innovative ways of teaching and those that leave teaching to teach teachers because they are so good at what they do. So many of these leaders at this level know not the real truth of the classroom due to their time away from the realities that surround the classroom walls.
In some ways, I know I could have done better by doing certain things differently when I was teaching. More so, I know that the system that prepared me for teaching failed me. The teacher education program was focused on trying this new thing and that new thing so often that they no longer had a clue what they existed to prepare future educators for.
It hurts to be on the outside looking in. I miss my classroom and my strategically positioned desk and computer and the cool things I could show my students to help them see how awesome writing and reading could be. I had another dream last night about school. I was in my old high school, but my freshman history teacher was telling me how she had quit too, and she was just running through the halls. Larry King was there, too, but I couldn’t tell you why. (Maybe I’m stressed? Ha-ha.) Then I woke up. I know, it makes no sense to you, dear reader, because dreams are strange. What got me and has stuck with me is how this dream has stuck with me. This is never often the case for me.
Who knows where I go from here. I have a masters degree I am interested in pursuing, but I know not what an actual dream job feels like, looks like, or leads me to. I’m enjoying being an hourly barista for now. I’d like to do more, but this keeps me busy, and it keeps me living, writing and dreaming.
One thing is certain: I’m not going to settle for mediocrity or getting by. I’m going to move on.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. -Steve Jobs