For the first time, I’m hoping that the audience that reads this is small. I’m hoping that hardly anyone I know will notice, especially not my students or my colleagues, or, dare I say it, the administrators in my school or my district.
The truth is, it’s time for a change. Soon…
I’ve been a teacher for 14 years now. I love it. I love my job. I love doing something important, I love the challenge of being an educator responsible for students 190 or so days a year, and I love that learning seeps into every day of my job.
I’m an elementary trained teacher with a specialty in the intermediate years. My first 7 years of teaching were at the elementary level. In that time, I taught all grades from K-7 in some sort of teaching assignment.
Nearly seven years ago, I transferred to the local high school as the art teacher. It’s a dream job, my own little utopia, really. The art program thrives with ~2/3 of students in the school spending time in the art room each year. This is partially due to the constant popularity of the photography courses which constantly transform as more and more technology finds it’s way into my practice. When I started in the school seven years ago, the only photography course was 10 weeks long and offered an introducation to black and white photography using traditional darkroom techniques and manual SLR cameras. Now I teach two Media Arts courses that have curriculum ranging from the basic traditional black and white approach, digital photography and image editing units to video projects on the only Mac computer in the school.
The change I can feel coming, the change that I feel deep in my being as needing to happen, is the move back to being an elementary teacher.
I miss being an elementary classroom teacher. I miss the classroom experience. I love my job at the high school but I miss the younger students and I miss teaching the full range of subjects. I miss teaching writing, I miss teaching math, I miss teaching science and I miss that rythym that comes from teaching the same students in the same room day after day. I love my multi-age classroom that always seems to have students working in at least four different courses at once and I know that there are many things about my current job that I’ll miss once the change is made, but regardless, the change needs to be made. The risky thing, the toughest part to reconcile in my mind is, once I leave, there will be no going back. There will be no returning to that perfect job. And yet I still want to leave.
I’ve thought about this for some time now. I’ve sensed for awhile that I would not want to retire as the art teacher. I think of my mother telling me that it’s not good to teach the same thing for more than about five years or so because it gets routine,it can get boring and you get tired of doing the same thing over and over. I’m not the type of person who does well with boredom.
One of the things I love about teaching is that it is never boring, it’s never routine and I never do the same thing over and over again. But after teaching in the same job, even with all the changes I’ve made each year, I do feel that routine setting in. That boredom. That sense of sameness. It took me ten years to have the same teaching assignment for the third year in a row. At the time I loved it – the joy and relaxation of being able to take out a unit taught and tweaked twice before! To not have to re-invent the wheel, only shine it up a little… It was heaven! But even with all the tweaking, and the endless approaches to teaching drawing, painting, art history, and photography, I’m finding it too much the same.
Not unexpected, but still sad. I’m one of those people who needs stability to thrive and I know that change is coming.
It’s coming, whether I like it or not.