I guess now is about the time I need to start thinking about what I’m going to be doing with my life in the foreseeable future…
When I signed up for TFA, I knew I was making a commitment to teaching for two years. I was open to teaching after that two years (not one of the people who went into the program just planning on two years). Last year, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it through year one, but I did, and now I’m plowing through year two. There are a lot of questions I’m going to need to answer relatively soon. Do I want to keep teaching? Do I want to take the GRE and apply to PhD programs? Do I want to stay in Baltimore? Do I want to try teaching in a different school? Do I want to try teaching a different grade level? Do I want to try teaching in a different state?
The answer to all of these questions is, pretty decidedly, idk. I honestly don’t know. Right now I’m just trying to focus all of my energy on being the best teacher I can be. I feel so much more competent than I did last year. I’m a much better teacher. I can only imagine how much more effective I would be in the third year and beyond. It seems like a gigantic waste for me to put so much time and effort into learning this craft only to just up and leave when I’m finally halfway decent at it. And I think about my para and how much energy and work she put into helping me get my sea legs and learn how to TEACH and it makes me feel guilty to think that that would go to waste.
There are so many pros to staying a teacher. For one thing, I never have to worry about money. This not something that me-2-years-ago would ever imagine me-now saying because, truthfully, if it weren’t for TFA, I would not have a job right now. As many “skills” as I surely have and as educated as I am, I am utterly unemployable. For god sake I have a “critical theory” degree from “simons rock college the early college of bard”, I mean jesus christ I don’t even have a high school diploma!!! Simon’s Rock is so small that we don’t even have an education major (otherwise I probably would’ve taken it). Getting into TFA—well… it changed my economic horizon immensely, I can say that for it. I’m basically in the best financial situation I could possibly be in at my age and in my station in life—I have great health insurance, I make more than enough money to cover my rent and (relatively minor) expenses, I’m getting a free masters degree, I actually make enough money to save a little bit. No, it’s not the amount I would hope to be making for the rest of my adult life, but for a 23 year old it’s really quite a lot. I am blessed to have a job and turning away from that seems really ridiculous at this time. Also, I actually like teaching. I love my students and I love being a part of their lives and learning from them while teaching them. I enjoy being with them. I don’t mind working in a school setting, generally speaking. I get summers off. I work at a job that’s rewarding and interesting. If the world were really to end in December, I could die knowing that I had actually made some kind of imprint on this earth, through the minds of my children. That’s a very, very powerful sentiment.
On the other hand, I just don’t know. There are drawbacks to teaching. How many of them will be solved when I can say bye-bye to TFA and Hopkins at the end of this year? How much has the pressure and stress and time wasting forced upon me by these two corporations affected my day-to-day? I can’t say. How much of it is working in one of the most dysfunctional, dangerous, desolate schools in Baltimore? Would I feel better a school with a little more support? Would I feel better teaching older kids who won’t forget my name and face by the time they’re 10? I don’t know. Would I feel better if I didn’t live in Baltimore anymore? If I lived in New England, where the climate agrees with me and I don’t have to feel unsafe and dirty a lot of the time? I don’t know. Because there also a lot of things I really like about Baltimore. Like my apartment, my living situation, my cheap rent, being close to my family, being within spitting distance of some of my closest friends in the world… I don’t know!
I’m so confused. If I weren’t at the school I’m at right now, it might be easier to make this decision. Because my daily life is so clouded by animosity towards my administration after what I went through last year (and, to a lesser extent, this year). But then I also think it could be good to stay at my school. I absolutely love working in the community I work in and I feel like I’ve truly gotten to know many of the families at the school (already starting to have siblings funnel through). And I could stay with my para. Together, we’re a really good team. But I just don’t know.
For now, I’m probably going to take the Praxis II just in case I do decide to keep teaching. I am honestly 50-50 on it. I’d like to go back to real school and then maybe go into academia, where I was obviously meant to belong. The teacher work schedule is really hard for someone like me (prone to moderate depression, tired all the time, generally just lethargic and introverted—it’s truly a job for the extrovert). I’d like to be a professor some day, I think. I could keep teaching and spreading/gaining knowledge, which I love, while delving more deeply into some of my passions. But then I wouldn’t have the joy of hanging out with 4 year olds all day. But since I haven’t really looked into any PhD programs since last year, I probably will keep teaching for at least another year. They say if you can make it past the 5 year mark, you’re golden. But I just don’t know if I want to be golden.
The question in teaching comes down to this, for me—do the high moments temper the low ones? I’m not sure.