Friday, April 11, 2014

Year 4: Week 29 - The Teacher Life I Planned For

Some people claim that teaching is their life.  For me, it's a job, but once upon a time it felt like it was going to be my whole life and that didn't seem like such a bad thing.

When I was in graduate school, I dived deep in the world if academia and I loved it.  I went to conferences, read hundreds of pages of education books and wrote about education all of the time.  I was surrounded by brilliant professors and other amazing graduate students.  Everything I did was focused on my graduate studies and it was a blast.  Education felt like the most important thing in the world and it was fun.

While there was pressure to succeed academically, I wasn't teaching,  I didn't have Buffy or Ollie and while I was with Diana back then we weren't married.  As stressed out as I got writing papers and preparing presentations, everything felt manageable and safe.

I figured that if I could get through graduate school which was far more challenging than my undergraduate degree, then I could handle anything.  I could focus my life and all of my passion on education.  Why not?

My first job teaching high school band started the same time me and Diana moved in together.  The job took much more time than graduate school did and my learning curve could not keep up with what I needed to know how to do.  I figured out how to "do" graduate school but I couldn't figure out the high school band teacher gig.  It took up my weekends and weeknights and while I wanted to devote this time, it wasn't as fun as graduate school.  There was more at stake, it wasn't about my degree it was about my students' education.

Diana and I settled in the suburbs away from our friends so it was difficult to meet up with people and get into the city.  This combined with trying to manage living together for the first time made our home life a challenge.  It wasn't incredibly stressful or difficult, it was actually a fun adventure, one that took more time than I had predicated but was also more rewarding that  I imagined.

I tried to keep up with reading the same education journals and go to the same music teacher events but it was harder than during graduate school.  At my next job as a teacher assistant, I pulled further away from living my life completely for teaching.

Now my life as a teacher is focused on my own school.  I know I need to branch out and renew the connections is made with the larger teaching community but it's difficult with so much on my plate.  I want to be that teacher who is well connected in the community and knows all the major players, but the best I can do right now is be that kind of teacher in my school.

There is greatness in being the kind of teacher I thought I would be when I left graduate school.  However for me, it just wasn't genuine.  I don't find high school marching band competitions all that interesting, concert band music is not my favorite genre of music and there many other things I'd rather read than education journals.  I don't eat, live and breathe being a music educator.

Maybe, I lacking drive and passion for my craft, but I don't think that's it.  I care about my kids and being the best teacher that I can be, I just need to do this in a way that is genuine to who I am and the life that I want to lead for myself and my family.

Sometimes I miss the simpler days of graduate school, but I'm happy with the teacher I am today.  If I had pushed myself to devote my life to teaching completely I would have missed out on the best parts of my life.

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