Today I have to return from maternity leave. I have to go back to work. I don't want to go back. I REALLY do not want to go back. Having time off with a new baby (plus a few weeks beforehand of bed rest with nothing much to do but think) really creates a lot of opportunity for soul-searching and deep thought about careers, relationships, family, friends, and life in general. I've been avoiding thinking about work, because I knew how much I was dreading it. I haven't talked about it here because I've been trying to make a conscious effort to be more positive. But now here it is, and I have to go back...
I am a good teacher. I am a really good teacher. But teaching has never been my long-term plan for my life. I love art, and when I was in college, my parents pressed me, "How will you make a regular paycheck doing art?" and I told them that I would teach it. Seemed like a plan. And I like kids, so it all seemed to fit. But teaching art isn't just "art" and "kids." I wish it were so simple. Then I might not hate going back so much.
I hate grading. I wish I could just make art for art's sake with the students and have that be good enough. I hate testing, and assessing, and proving that what I do is important... or at least, trying to prove that what I do is important. Mostly that all falls on deaf ears.
I don't want to create a plan for how I (as an art teacher) can help improve students' reading and math skills (scores) in my classroom. If I wanted to teach reading or math, I would have gone to school to be a reading or math teacher. I don't want to keep track of missing work or send makeup work for so-and-so who's absent for this extended vacation or special meeting or band lesson or any other number of reasons a student might miss my class, because, after all, it's "just" art. I don't want to have to call home or send emails because of missing work. I hate all of that. I really don't care. Just show up and make art. That's what I really want to do.
I'm sick of not being treated as a professional, like my job is "lower" than others. I have a Master's degree. I have National Board Certification in my subject area. I paid my dues. But I am not paid. Not fairly, anyways. I've (and the rest of the teachers in my district) have been without a contract for almost a year now. The community thinks that it's "our" fault, the teachers, because we're "greedy." They say we need to get a taste of what "the rest of the world" is dealing with. Are you kidding me?
I watched a movie this weekend. It's called American Teacher, and by the time I got to the end of the movie, I was crying. Serious tears streaming down my face. It was hard to figure out why. Partly because I sympathized with most of the people in the documentary, partly out of jealously because one of the teachers got to take a year off of work to stay home with her baby, and partly because I wished I was one of the many former teachers in the film who were able to leave the profession.
There's nowhere for me to go! The biggest kick in the you-know-where is that I HAVE to keep this job... You know, if I want to keep my house and all. I can't just pack up and go. The economy sucks so hard that I'd never find a job other than burger flipping right now, and heck, I'd gladly burger flip, but it doesn't pay enough!
I hate the current climate in society that accepts (and even encourages!) teacher-bashing. Every single ignorant person I've heard make an anti-teacher comment is using FALSE information, or is completely making stuff up! I do not work a 6 hour day! I do not get three months "off" during the year! I'm not lazy, and I'm not greedy.
What am I? I'm tired. I'm beat down. I'm ready to give up. I'm stuck. I'm without choices.
So much for my positive streak. Promise to be more upbeat next time, just gotta get this out. Thanks.
p.s. (I originally wrote this yesterday, but seeing as it was April 1st, I wanted to make sure that there was no confusion, and that this was in no way any kind of an April Fool's joke. It's my 100% honest opinion on the matter.)