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Saturday, April 07, 2007
Teaching Matters
I've been on vacation for the past week, with three more days of freedom to go before I return to work. I'm quite disappointed in myself that I didn't go anywhere. I tried, though. I tried to plan a trip but things just kept coming in the way. It seemed less stressful to just stay at home and mope. I think that's maybe something that I needed. To just be lazy and do things that don't require any type of thinking at all.

Teaching has taken a lot out of me. I knew becoming a high school teacher would be tough, but I never thought it would wear me out like this. You spend five days a week, six hours a day leading classes full of adolescents. You spend most of your day talking to teenagers, fighting with them, yelling at them, that by the time you get home you forget what it's like to talk to normal people.

I realized this past week how anti-social I've become since I started my job. It's just that when I finish a hard day's work, all I want to do is NOT talk. It becomes very difficult to keep friends this way and I think that's why I've lost so many. Sigh.

A couple of weeks ago my friend's husband sent me an e-mail with a job posting from Human Rights Watch. There was a position they'd just posted that was perfect for me, he said. I've got all the's what I went to grad school for. Researcher, women's issues, lots of traveling, prestigious job. My friend told him that I already had a job that I was happy in and his reply was, "teaching? Eh teaching? That's not a job. She should get a better job."

I hate it when people belittle educators. Teaching is a profession no one chooses apparently. It's a profession you're forced to take because you can't do anything else. Teachers have an easy life. We work from 9 to 3, report to no boss, and have "all that time off". What a J-O-B!

What nobody seems to understand is that we don't work from 9-3. We work from 9 to whenever bedtime is that day. Papers to grade, lessons to plan, new things to discover to try to bring to class. You think we teachers just walk into our classroom and do improv??? As pleasant as it may sound, there's NO WAY we can ever get away with that. Sure, the more years you teach, the more you're able to just "wing it" on some hangover days. But enter a battlefield without a strategy?? No teacher in the world would think of doing that.

Report to no boss? We've got to report to our principals, parents, and (most important of all) our students! You screw up in the class and you WILL be held accountable. Adults may let things slide, but kids will be constantly up your ass.

"All that time off" (ATTO)? Well you try teaching five classes a day, five days a week and see what happens to you. Just before vacation I was about to call one of my students a nasty bitch, fantasized about slamming one of my kids' head against the wall and watching his blood splatter, and prayed that another would fall into the subway tracks on the way home and become decapitated. I'm not exaggerating. These were the exact thoughts running through my mind. If we didn't have ATTO we'd either commit suicide or homicide, neither of which is a pretty good option.

Teaching is tough. And it's unappreciated. There are days when I just want to throw my chalk against the board and walk out of the classroom, never looking back. There are days when my students say such mean things that make me want to cry, days when I hate my life. Days when I come home and want to crawl into some little space where no one can find me.

I stay because I know that my work is making a difference. It has meaning. Value. I don't have to wait to see the product of my labor. We are the real superheroes! When one of my kids succeeds, my heart swells up. It's like watching your baby take its first steps.

I love my job, as difficult as it is. Going to Barcelona was truly a life-changing experience and the ripples of its effects continues till today. I wouldn't leave my job for the world. And if I complain about it too much, please remind me of this post!
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:59 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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