When I went on medical leave for the first time in… God, was it September?, and started thinking about resigning before the school year ended, never in a million years did I think I would still be out of work in June. I was about to say that I would have wagered large sums of money on finding work quickly, but the simple fact is that I did wager large amounts of money. Hell, I wagered our entire damn house that I would find steady paying work before my savings ran out. And while I’m not quite ready to drop off an application at Meijer or Target just yet, and the interview today really did go well, I’ve had positive interviews in the past that didn’t end up resulting in anything and… well, I’m not applying at Meijer or Target yet, but I can see it from here, if you know what I mean. We’re not in panic mode yet; we won’t be for a bit. But it’s a hell of a lot closer than it was in January.
You may be wondering if I think I made a mistake, walking away from teaching.
I had wondered myself. Until today.
My wife and I ended up running errands in shifts today. I went out this morning, then when I got home she headed out, and by the time she got home from her stuff I’d come up with more that I needed to do and went out again. One of the tasks was to pick up cat food from my local pet store. Where I ran into another teacher from my previous school. He wasn’t on my team– in fact, he taught on the other side of the building– so the way teaching goes hell if I know when I’d last talked to him, and he’d likely only heard rumors about why I’d left.
He was at work, by the way. I asked him if he’d quit too, but no; this was just his side job. Because God forbid teachers ever just have one goddamn job, but that’s a side rant.
I asked him how the year was going. And I should make sure I’m clear: I like this guy, and I think he’s a dedicated teacher. So the torrent of bile and stress and caged-up antipathy toward his own students that poured out of him is not something I’m going to blame him for. It’s the job. This is what it does to us. And this and that happened with this student, and we’re sending the fuckups to the office like they tell us to but then the office is just sending kids back to class, and God I don’t want to blah blah blah the guy but blah blah blah. We’ve all sung this song a thousand times, and everybody knows the chorus by now.
It stressed me the fuck out. I could feel the shit creeping back in again around the edges, just in a five-minute conversation. And all I could think, talking to him, was Oh my God I am so incredibly glad that I am not you.
So no. I might have thought I regretted it a few days ago, and I’ll admit that I do miss being around kids. I liked being around kids. But do I miss teaching? Do I think I made a mistake, quitting when I did, even though it led to months more unemployment than I had ever dreamed it would?
My book about teaching, Searching for Malumba: Why Teaching is Terrible, and Why We Do It Anyway, is just $4.95 for the ebook and $15.95 in print. Check it out!