I've been teaching upper elementary school for over a decade. I usually love teaching, although I have gone through some tough situations that have shifted my view from teaching as a calling, to teaching as a job. My question is: my enthusiasm for teaching upper grades is waning, and I'm wondering if a grade change is what I need to bring back my passion for teaching, or is it just gone? What do you think?
On The Fence
Dear On the Fence,
You’ve hit on a central question to many people in the workforce today: “Does my job need to be my calling? If not, then how do I get through it? If so, how the hell do I get out of this job?”
Let’s set that huge question aside for a minute and just talk about your circumstances. It sounds like, even though you no longer feel jazzed about teaching, you are currently looking for ways to bring the magic back. You’ve been burned by some bad experiences, and are wanting to turn things around before you get too jaded.
This is completely possible. It will require a good amount of change, but if you can be open to the changes, it could be beautiful. You can still be a teacher and not do exactly what you are doing now. I encourage you to consider ALL the options: a grade change, a school change, an entire genre change---you are a teacher, but do you need to teach in schools? What do you love to teach, and is there a market of people who would be interested in learning that from you?
Take your career to couple’s therapy. Sit down with a pad of paper and a pen (not a computer---the brain works differently long hand), set your watch for a 50 minute session, and write, stream-of-consciousness, a conversation between your Teacher Self and your On The Fence Self. Go ahead, ask TS all your hardest questions, answer “Yeah, but what about the time. . .”, and hash it all out. Notice what voice Teacher Self takes on. Is it a tone you recognize from another part of your life? Are there action steps you can take to salvage the relationship? Can you seek out training, a teacher support group, or go to some of the galvanizing events groups like Yes World provide to support people doing good in the world?
Let’s say, at the end of all this soul searching, you and Teacher Self decide to break up. You want to discover your true/new calling. You won’t be alone. More and more people are spending their nights and weekends working on the things they are passionate about, either to eventually make their living off of those things, or just because it feeds their everyday experience that much more.
You can’t stay on the fence forever. At some point, you’ll have to jump one way or another, and my advice to you is to do so with both feet, whatever direction you choose. You might find yourself dismantling the fence, slat by slat, despite the splinters incurred, in order to find a new, less polarizing way to live.
Submit your own quandary to Sibyl here.