Dear world, I am back.
Somehow or other, 2014 disappeared on me, or I disappeared on it, at least in terms of this website. So what happened? Teaching happened (And my second novel happened; more on that another time.)
When I first started teaching, a colleague told me, “Teaching will eat you alive, if you let it.”
It does, and it did, especially this year.
Not in a “zombies ate my brain” way (although some days it feels exactly like that), but in an “I’ll just finish one more thing and then I’ll definitely [go home/turn off the computer/go to bed/whatever]” way. And then when you look back at the clock it’s absurdly late and you never did stop, did you? But you still have to get up at Oh, my God o’clock and do it all over again.
And no, this isn’t a “Woe is me, teachers have it so tough” rant. Because, as my colleague pointed out, we do this to ourselves. Nobody is making us put in extra time improving our lessons or trying to figure out how best to help a particular student. We pour our time and effort into teaching, despite whatever it may cost in terms of our own well-being, because it’s what we want to do.
Notice how the 2 students in front are too busy texting each other to listen to the teacher? Plus ça change… [School of Athens (detail), Raphael, 1509]
Believe me, these days no one is teaching unless they have to. For some, of course, the necessity is primarily economic (I confess that I, too, enjoy receiving a paycheck). However, I believe that most of us are motivated by the need to teach, the need to offer our knowledge and skills to help our students learn and grow and thrive. We need to teach the way some people need to paint, or dance, or compose, or follow any other path.
[Full disclosure: I also have lousy time management skills. Lots of dedicated teachers don’t get eaten alive because they figure out how to get and stay organized and how to balance teaching with everything else in their lives. I’m still working on it. And always will be, I suspect.]