Friday, September 11, 2009
They say that public school teachers peak at seven years. They've learned the craft of teaching, but are still new enough to care while able to circumvent the worst of the inanity.
After 7 years, teaching is a slow descent into the black miasma of doom.
The first year I was terrified, nervous, filled with dread and anxiety.
The second year I was just nervous and felt like I was still faking it.
The third year I was giddy with excitement.
The fourth year I was self assured and eager.
The fifth year I felt slightly tense, full of anticipation, like an athlete before a game.
The start of this year, my sixth year, one year before my "peak"...I don't feel anything.
I'm not excited, I'm not nervous, I'm not anxious, I'm not energized.
This year I just feel bored.
When did this go from becoming an adventure to being just a job?
Don't get me wrong, it's still not easy. The schedule Sarah and I worked so painstakingly on has been shot to hell, the teachers I thought I would be working with have disappeared, the students remain forever adolescent. I should have lesson plans that last me for 6 months straight without even thinking - I certainly have collected years of material.
But every year I always feel like I'm starting from scratch.
I've picked up the tricks, learned techniques that can never be gathered through training but earned only through battle scarred experience. Like a magician, I can bring a class to attention with a wave of my hand, have them laughing with a sly joke, or freeze them dead with a glare.
The staff nods and waves. They all know who I am, although I can barely remember half their names. There have been so many of them that have come and gone through our school doors that to me the faculty blends right in with the students.
The older teachers, the lifers, treat me differently now. To the one's that like me, I am a comrade in arms, a trusted associate who can be turned to for help. To the more difficult teachers I am a predator, we circle each other like sharks, mouthing empty pleasantries before both moving along our way.
I have even outlasted the principal. He was promoted this year.
The first day of school I sail through on cruise control. I march through my classroom like a twenty year sea captain walking the decks, anticipating problems before the students can even have a chance to react. Sarah is gone this year, and the room feels empty, party because I've finally managed to take down all her crap that cluttered the walls.
I miss her terribly.
At the end of the day I do something I have never done in five years of teaching.
I go out and join friends in Hollywood for a drink.
When did this become a job?