Those who spend a lot of time with me personally would probably tell you that I spend an inordinate amount of time agonizing over what to do with my life…particularly for a career. I remember teachers asking me that proverbial question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and giving an exasperated reply of, “I’m only in 6th grade! How am I supposed to know?!” I wish someone would have told me that 20 years later I would have just as little direction as I did then. My head probably would have exploded right on the spot.
I don’t typically read my horoscope, but yesterday I was given a complimentary copy of the newspaper while getting my oil changed, and it seemed way too relevant.
At a time when a lot of burgeoning new teachers are asking me for references and insights into the process of getting a teaching job, I should feel grateful to not only just have a job, but to have one in such a great building with great students and parents and three amazing bosses. I really didn’t know this type of gig was possible.
So why am I continually unsatisfied? I used to be able to blame it on the system. There are no resources; I get no planning time; the students’ needs are beyond my scope of ability; the leadership is weak; standardized testing takes up too much class time, etc. But at my current school, I literally have no complaints. NOT ONE. I have a manageable class size; my team is fun and collaborative; I have resources from parents and the community; I am able to meet the needs of my current students (mind you, I’m in the exact same school district, so anyone who thinks equity isn’t a problem has got a real problem of their own).
I often wonder, do other people feel this way? They must! And then today three people on my FB feed posted, “I LOVE MY JOB!!!!” with like a million exclamation points. It’s like, yeah that’s great for you, but I kind of want to stab you at the same time. You know, a goodwill stab.
This last week I spent three very full days with my students at Outdoor School, where I am held against my will to sleep on a rubber mattress on the top bunk in a rustic dining hall while high schoolers endlessly sing songs and do skits for my adoring 6th graders. It’s kind of like my worst nightmare. But remember that awkward scene from Girls where Hannah gets hired as a freelance writer…?
Well there’s something to be said about this ridiculous idea. I always learn something new about myself at Outdoor School (now that I’ve been six times). I am always reminded that I really like to be outdoors, no matter the weather. And I like quiet. In fact, I need quiet. All the singing and excitement and just general human interaction is ok for about four hours, and then I get really grumpy. I’m also not good at faking happiness when I’m not happy. I’m also reminded that I need a schedule. The best part about Outdoor School is that they have this ENORMOUS schedule that’s pretty much down to the minute for each 24 hour period. I freaking love that.
The biggest thing I notice when I’m there? An almost magnetic pull to the kitchen. No, I’m not hungry. I want to get in there and WORK! I want to stir giant vats of mashed potatoes, and wash giant pots and pans, and refill the ranch dressing bottles. In addition, my favorite time at ODS is setting up the dining room for everyone. For me, there is nothing better than putting out silverware hot from the dishwasher onto napkins, and filling pitchers with water and counting the cups. But it doesn’t end there – ohhhh noooo. I can’t wait for everyone to leave so I can clean up after them. Wiping tables with bleach cloths, now that’s what I’m talking about.
So tell me – what’s a girl to do? Quit her comfortable teaching job so she can run away to be a camp cook for minimum wage? My horoscope said I should remain in my “pasture,” but dammit this horse wants to run freeeeeeeee.