Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Have I Ever Mentioned, I'm Not Much of a People Person?
I had an epiphany today. It was a really good one, as epiphanies go, and even more welcome because I haven't had one in a long while.
An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. The term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has "found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture," (Thank you, Wikipedia)
I am alway envious when someone says they "love" their job, and conversely, have always felt guilty that I DON"T love teaching. Teaching is supposed to be a calling, right? Teachers who don't love their jobs are bad teachers that we don't want in the classroom, working with OUR children, right? And yet, yet, those things are NOT me. Oddly, I am GOOD at teaching. I really am. I know what I'm good at, and what I'm not, and I DO know, I'm a good teacher. I care beyond measure about my students as individuals. I care what kind of a home life they have, and how that impacts my ability to teach them, and their ability to learn, or even care about learning. I am constantly striving to learn new things, teach new lessons, become more creative, to be more centered, reach out and add new things to my plans that I seem to have not been as strong on in the past. I go to relevant conferences, I read professional books and research, blah blah blah. SO, I know I'm GOOD at what I do, but yet, I don't like it.
Even that is a conundrum for me, because I LIKE my students, LIKE creating lesson plans, LIKE teaching the material. So, what DON"T I like? What makes me feel like I don't like teaching? Well, I've always been clear that I hate correcting papers. I HATE having to give up every evening of my life to correct papers, enter grades, plan lessons, etc. THAT part makes me really mad, because there are so many people who get to just come home at 5:00 and have a life from 5-10. I don't, and if I do, it means I'm shirking my work and that leaves more for the weekends. Oh, and did I mention that I HATE having to do school work on weekends? EVERY weekend? I spent from 9 am to 3 pm in my room on Saturday, spent all day Sunday sitting here correcting, and still have a backlog of work to do. I either do school work every single day, OR, I have hours and hours to do when I get around to catching up on it. Either way sucks.
But my epiphany today led me to understand WHY I hate teaching, and it's so clear I can't believe I haven't realized it in all these years. I've always said it just isn't a job that "fits" me, but never really examined what that meant to me. Today, I GET IT! I hate people. Really, I do. Well, ok, not really HATE people, but in general, I really am not a "people person." And every day, I have to leave my quiet, calm, dark, peaceful home to go to a place that is lit very brightly, is noisy, and FULL of people. My classroom, for the first two periods of my day, has at times, 33 people in it. 29 students, and 4 adults. And four of my students get up and leave my class for the first thirty minutes, and when they come back in, another student leaves for 30 minutes, and the speech teacher is in there trying to work on speech with 4 other students while I am teaching, and the Special Ed teacher is trying to work with her 6 students, and the teacher's aide is trying to help the Special Ed teacher, and oh, then there are the students who leave in the middle or come back in the middle of those two periods for band, piano, guitar or voice lessons. It's NOISY. It's CHAOS that is beyond my control. It is FULL of people, little and big. And then, the bells ring, and the halls are full of people, noisy people, and can I just say... I don't deal well with noise, with chaos, with having to keep tight control of things that so often feel totally beyond my control, with people. It stresses me out. And then, omg, throw in a fire drill during my prep period (a period which is not even quiet and calm in an empty classroom because, remember, I SHARE a classroom, so when it COULD be quiet, even for those 32 minutes, it's not because SHE has noisy kids) - I can't even begin to describe the inhuman sound of the fire alarm at school. Sort of like an old air raid drill noise? Or a grating,honking, buzzery noise? It's awful. Truly. AND, it means I have to leave my noisy-ish room to walk through the hall with MANY noisyish children and go stand on the playground with HALF THE SCHOOL. (Did I mention that I'm really not much of a people person?) Having to play the ROLE of a people person is VERY stressful to me.
Now, I am NOT complaining, even though I sound like I am. I really am not. Complaining at this stage of the game would be ridiculous, with only a few more years of this to go. Thankfully, the majority of my career years in this misplaced field are under my belt. AND, complaining is not my "thing." I am seriously and appropriately trying very hard to be positive in all things this year. A good attitude really does pay off, much of the time, and it certainly makes me a better, easier person to be around. Most days I can even stand myself!
All I am saying is, this epiphany, this realization, that came to me today, makes so much sense. It ISN"T the kids I dislike, it ISN"T the job itself of teaching I dislike, even though there are things about it that seriously annoy me. It is the circumstances, the physical circumstances, that do not mesh with my personality - my need - my craving - for peace, for quiet, for calm, for low lights and quiet voices and no bells ringing and no alarms cranking in my ears, and my huge, huge, huge desire to be alone, or to at least have limited contact for limited amounts of time with a limited number of people. YES. THOSE are the things that make me watch the clock slowly, torturously slowly, creep it's way to 3:08 every day, as though 3:08 is my time of salvation. It is. And it isn't to be away from kids I don't like, or to be away from a job that is horrible - it is to zip home - to where peace and quiet and a roomful of 4 dogs replaces a roomful of 29 noisy, happy, exuberant children. At home, I can think. And today, when I literally had to roll the stress of school off my shoulders as I left, that's when I realized what it is that actually causes teaching to just be not my thing, to be so stressful for me. How sad, that we come to these life-changing , epiphanies a little too late sometimes, but how lucky I am to finally realize where the issues lie. It eases a lot of the guilt I have felt for many years, and... with some quiet time at home to think about things, I might be able to restructure SOME of the things that SEEM out of my control. Maybe not all of them are, and maybe I CAN fix a few of them to de-stress a little bit of my physical surroundings.
I think I might need to take a sick day to sit here quietly and think about it all though. Tomorrow is sounding really, really good for that. Cough, cough. Oh look, I even have a slight tickle in my throat. I MUST be coming down with SOMETHING that will require a sick day...