I forget, over the summer when I'm not working, how really much I just don't care for spending a ton of time around people, all day, every day. I know, now, that I should have had a career where I was either alone much of the time, or one where I worked with animals. I really enjoy being alone most of the time. I seldom feel lonely. I REALLY enjoy being alone AND with animals. It's a little late for that, at the moment. Teaching has NEVER been a good fit for me. I have literally spent most of my teaching life trying to change careers, but never had the courage, or the ability, to do so. (I did actually take college classes attempting to become a Certified Nurse Midwife, back many years ago, and completed everything except for the "Math for Meds" course that everyone else flew through. Math is so not my friend. I could NOT get the hang of changing grams to drams, or milligrams to teaspoonfuls, or any of that. In fact, I so discouraged the RN who had taught the course for so many years that she asked me to please just drop the course so that she wouldn't have to fail me, because she didn't want the failure on HER record! I would have been her first; a dubious honor) In retrospect, I am pretty sure that would not have been an ideal job for me either: I need a ton of sleep, don't do well when my sleep is interrupted (could we just schedule all babies to be born between 9 and 5 please? Thanks!), and that, too, is a job that, unfortunately, involves people. And people who are often not at their best when in the midst of labor. And patience with cranky people? Also not necessarily always a strength. So, it's probably a good thing that didn't work out. But over the summer, I spend a lot of time alone. I get up, have coffee and often read for a bit, before going out to work in the garden, or clean, or do laundry, or bake. My dogs are in and out, and around. They are good company. And I enjoy the quiet, unhurried pace of most of the summer days. The rain got a bit discouraging this summer, but even a rainy summer at home, alone, is better than nice days teaching school. And I forget, every single year, even though this has to be my 22nd or 23rd year of teaching, how much of a transition it is to go back to work. I am discouraged today, and much of it comes from conflict between people at school. Conflict in my room over one teacher's stress in doing testing, and scheduling, and getting our classes up and running. For some reason, she seems MUCH more focused, and stressed, and uptight this year than any other. I don't know why. I can't figure it out. But it has rubbed off on me. And I don't like it. I don't like that I absorb other people's stress like a sponge. I am NOT a sponge. But I can't shake it off when it hangs heavy in our room, just there, under the new light fixtures, and seemingly as permanent as them, also.
And I am quick to feel not as good as other teachers, like my opinions are not as valued, my knowledge not as in-depth. I often feel more like an aide, than a professional. This year, already in the four days we have had this week, I have had some major self-esteem crises points. I feel like I am not my co-worker's equal, despite the fact that I have been doing this many years, many more than she, actually, but am always keeping up on current research, always willing to go to conferences and workshops and learn about and implement new things and ideas when they seem like they will make things better for the kids. I'm not one of those people who are just hanging around waiting to retire, unwilling to change anything, set in my ways. I also realize this is my issue, not hers, not anyone elses. But, on top of all that, I think the biggest issue simply is that it always takes time for me to readjust to being at work again after two months off. I LIKE my summer vacation. It truly IS one of the best things, for me, about being a teacher. And it hasn't dawned on me, until today when I've really been focused internally on what seems to be wrong, that a lot of my readjustment is NOT about my job, per se, or the kids, or the scheduling hassles, or anything else: it is about change. It is about leaving my quiet, cozy house, and my dogs, who I really do miss terribly during the day, and having to be out and about and among hundreds of people again each day for eight or more hours. I'm not used to having my solitude so intruded upon again yet. I will. I will readjust. I think things in our room will eventually be fine. I think the tension will go away, and my self-esteem issues will resolve themselves in the way that they usually do (i.e. I shrug my shoulders and essentially say, to myself, "who gives a flying fuck that she was asked to go to that CSE meeting instead of me, when I was the one who worked with that particular child all last year - it's one less meeting I have to attend!And I mean it.) . In the end, it will all be fine, and I will make it through another year, not particularly happy in my job, but bringing home a paycheck, and comfortable that I'm really NOT horrible at my job despite the fact that I don't love it, either. For most of my teaching life, I have claimed a particular mantra as my own: "My real life begins at 3:00." That remains true. I just have to make it through the days UNTIL 3:00, which has been hard this week. Maybe next week will be a little easier, and the week after that moreso. Maybe, by the first of October, summer vacation will be just a rainy, drippy memory, I will be used to hooking the dogs out every morning at 7:30, and school will be just routine again. That will be good.