06 September 2009

What It's Like on the Outside

Most of my friends are back in the classroom---summer vacation over and the frenzy of another school year beginning. My archives here hold some glimpses into my own first days of 2005, 2006, and 2007, as well as their impacts. I do remember sore feet and a sore throat from exercising my "teacher voice" after a summer of rest. I recall sleepy teens in the first couple of classes...and starving ones starting about 10 in the morning, their sense of time and energy jetlagged by the demands of a new school year.

There are things I miss about being in the classroom. Most of all, I miss working with the kids---in all of their adolescent glory. I no longer have any ebbs and flows to my year which are driven by the calendar: no "Winter Break," no counting down the days until summer holiday, no Homecoming Assembly, AP test weeks, or final exams. I have no more grading and reporting frenzies. However, there are things that I don't miss, such as fire/earthquake/emergency drills. I have yet to pine for the interruptions of the intercom and endless student passes from the office, along with every other aggravation known to administration and counseling. And I especially don't miss the pathetic union masquerading as professionalism and collective action.

However, for those of you who have looked longingly at the grass on the other side of the fence and wondered how nice it would be to actually have a lunch every day and/or use the restroom whenever you needed...well, I don't mean to burst your bubble, but it is not necessarily good times on the outside. You know that industrial toilet paper used in schools? It's ever present in government agencies, too. Being able to sneak off to the restroom is really not that much of a gift in that case. Lunch? Sure, I can choose to eat whenever I get hungry, but you don't always get a guaranteed space between meetings for that. And, oh, the meetings...and administrivia...and games played by anyone with a special interest to promote (which is pretty much everyone in my circles these days). Let me assure you that incompetent leadership can be found nearly everywhere outside of the schools.

All this being said, there are some nice things about being on the outside. I might not get the month of July off, but I can take a holiday nearly any time of year. Although I've had to travel a bit too much for my tastes in the past year, I do get to be out and about. I've gone all sorts of new places and met hundreds of new people. I get to work from home a couple of days a week. Those few parents who would make my teaching life miserable? Don't deal with them anymore (or the rare bad apple kid who caused night after night of insomnia). I have the opportunity to think about different things than I did in the classroom, which after all these years, is really a nice change.

I don't know that I can stay away from classroom life forever. And really, I don't know that I should. To do this job for an extended time and not walk the talk I'm putting out is hypocritical, at best. I can't support who/what I don't understand. But for the next year or so, I'm going to see if I can enjoy life on the outside.

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