Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Those I Left Behind

A lot of people ask me if I miss teaching.

I don’t think much about it right when they ask. My answer comes almost instantly and without restraint: no.

I don’t miss being told all the ways I’m failing. I don’t miss not being told thank you. I don’t miss lesson planning on Sundays and being told my class was boring. I don’t miss making seating charts. I don’t miss grading essays. I don’t miss the excuses from parents. I don’t miss lies from students. I don’t miss the teacher “trainings.” I don’t miss the early mornings. I don’t miss testing. I don’t miss bad attitudes. I don’t miss teenage drama. I don’t miss seeing teens making out, and I don’t miss hearing them swear. I don’t miss the bells or the drills. I don’t miss trying to convince them that reading and writing are important in “real life” but also in their personal lives. I don’t miss the noise. I don’t miss the rude and disrespectful ones.

Here are some things I do miss, though: Vacations. Seeing a student work really hard. Hearing a student tell me that s/he didn’t used to like English, but now they love it. Hearing the occasional ‘thank you’ or ‘this is my favorite class!’ Laughing at the many ridiculous things students would do or say, sometimes not until after they left class. Reading the occasional intelligent thought. Watching them perform at talent shows. Asking kids hard life questions and making them really uncomfortable. Pushing kids to think. Having kids laugh at my nerdy jokes. Making them laugh during Faculty Follies. Getting some sweet and thoughtful cards and gifts. Showing kids that their lives really aren’t that hard (read: Holocaust). Witnessing them realize that some books are good. Trying to show them that they’ll just have to work harder at some things, but they’ll get there.

One of the biggest things I miss, though? The community.

I had dessert with some teacher friends last night. I miss the feeling that these people knew exactly what I dealt with every single day. Teaching was hard. But at least everyone around me felt the same way. There was an unmatched support system between teachers. A knowing nod. A sympathetic glance. A supportive sounding board. Equal frustration. Just that comforting feeling that you were not alone in the battle of every class period, every day, every week for 40 weeks. We linked arms and marched forward in strength to the battlefield of the classroom, picking each other up when we fell. And that is one of the greatest parts of teaching that they don’t tell you when you go to school.

That’s the part that they don’t tell you you’ll miss when you leave: the friends you won’t find anywhere else.

My heart is with those of you in the field that I so readily abandoned. You are doing a great work. Just know you’ve got someone in the stands cheering you on. 


Alison said...

Janae, this is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing. It came at a great time because just today I got a snotty comment from a student that he hasn't learned anything in my class. Grr! I guess all of my work over the last several months was for nothing; I shouldn't have even bothered! I was feeling ticked, but your words seriously brightened my day. We miss you tons here at Jefferson, but I'm so happy that you found an opportunity for a job elsewhere. :)

Carrie said...

So awesome Nae! You were the best teacher ever, and hopefully someday all those bratty "middle-schoolers" will look back and recognize that! But if not, it's because they would never "get it," because they don't "get " life. I'm so proud of you!