Always a Roller Coaster
One thing I learned early in my career is that teaching is one everlasting roller coaster of emotions. Quite frequently I'll have a day that makes me want to quit by the time the last bell rings followed by a day that leaves me feeling like I'd never want to try anything else.
I think this phenomenon was ESPECIALLY true my first year teaching. It seemed like practically every day I'd have wholly different feelings and emotions associated with my job than I did the day before.
I'm not sure if it's like this in other professions, although I'm sure it is to one degree or another, but anytime you're so emotionally invested in the lives of others (when you're, in fact, working for them to better their lives and their futures), I imagine this roller-coaster effect is a natural side effect.
I'm not sure if this ever goes away. I believe the highs and lows probably begin to come further apart from each other (one good week followed by one not-so-good week instead of day by day), and the severity of the extremes experienced on either end may also decline, but I suspect these back and forth emotions will always exist in such a profession to one degree or another - unless, of course, you're one of those teachers who's given up on caring about what you do.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I've been really feeling the effects of the roller-coaster as of late. This should be pretty obvious if you've been following my blog. (Three posts ago I'm talking about quitting, two posts ago I'm talking about feeling better, and in the last post I'm talking about quitting again.) This past week has been exactly the same. Monday through Thursday morning I was convinced I'd quit my school in January. I was even searching for jobs in other school districts, at the downtown DCPS office, on Capitol Hill, and I looked at applying to go back to school at GWU or the University of Maryland. Thursday afternoon through present I've been thinking I'll probably stay through June (and possibly even come back to the school next year). So there's the roller coaster for you.
I'm not at all like this in other aspects of my life. In my personal life I'm almost always confident in my decisions and rarely waiver in my resolve. I may take time to make a smart decision, but I never go back and forth to such extremes as I do in regard to teaching.
I was down early in the week because Sunday night I received an e-mail telling me to scrap a unit my colleagues and I had worked on for weeks because my department head prefers that we teach what he comes up with instead. The implication was that we don't know how to write objectives, essential questions, or enduring understandings. After all that, having had my 3rd period changed four times, and some other details I don't feel comfortable posting on a public blog, I definitely had decided that I couldn't work at this school next semester.
But then I had a great day teaching and decided the school wasn't so bad (roller coaster climbing). I've come to that point in the year where I've finally, after all my fighting, managed to bend my classes to my will. It's not quite what it sounds like. It's not that I've broken their spirits or anything; it's just that I finally convinced the serious trouble-makers that the consequences for acting like an ass in my class will never be worth the modest positive reinforcement they get from their peers. It happens with every class. I fight, and I scrap, and I call home, and I refer kids when necessary, and I have numerous small side conversations with kids in the halls until they realize I won't give up. And then they do.
Now my classroom functions like a well-oiled machine. I ask for silence and I get it almost immediately. I tell them to work quietly and they do. I've proven to myself that I can survive the kids in DC. No, not every single one of them is passing or always paying attention, but they are at least willing to provide me with a learning environment where the ones who want to learn have the opportunity.
The question now is whether I can survive the administration, and one administrator in particular. Is the stress of it worth it? Last year over twenty teachers were fired, and I've heard that when you get fired, getting back into DCPS can be difficult.
So I'm still obviously up in the air. For this very moment, however, I'm going to sit back, watch the snow, and forget about all of this. Have a great weekend everyone!