I spent the early days of my teaching career determined to be the best teacher I could be. I got my masters right out of the gate. I went to the SC middle school state conference both years I taught there. I worked hard to get all top marks in the ADEPT program for initially licensed teachers. Once in NC, I started my national boards, despite having to start over in the NC three year Beginning Teacher program. (I’m probably one of the only teachers to get NBCT as a BT2. The paperwork at the county level kept getting kicked back. ) Anyway, I continued to serve on leadership teams. As team leader. As department chair. As School Improvement Chair.
After amassing lessons and units and strategies and skills over 18 years in middle school language arts, I had my oldest son in my own third period language arts class. And the same year, the county adopted a canned, scripted curriculum.
If a mid-life crisis is defined as “an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence”, as a teacher, I was definitely there. Why have I worked so hard to build skills and lessons I feel strongly about? I’d cultivated an educational program of which I was proud but from which my own child wouldn’t benefit. “Just record some teacher giving the mandated lesson and I’ll just hit a play button”, I’d often thought. I had so many lessons that were so much more engaging than those four county-mandated workbooks my son and his classmates had to slog through every day.
I was undoubtedly depressed. And I was so, so angry.
Oh I gave it the old college try for sure. Of the 39 resources posted in the community to support the new mandated curriculum, 8 were from the county, 9 were from other teachers, and 22 were ones I’d created and shared. But I definitely felt like I was at a dead end. I’d stopped blogging here and started seriously thinking I need to find something else to do.
And then my social studies teammate told me he was going to be moving grade levels. After some thought, I emailed my principal to be considered for the social studies position and he agreed.
I made the subject switch the following school year, starting the next chapter of my teaching career. I can be creative again. I have autonomy over how I address the student needs. I’m not in meetings about test scores. I am not driven to over-analyze data. I don’t have to write detailed intervention plans for each student who didn’t get a certain score on a bubble test. I am the decision-maker in my classroom again.
And I am free.