This will make me sound like an ungrateful wretch. I mean, it makes me feel like one! But I think I’m not alone in wondering, “what if I’d made a different choice?”
Last month, I ran into a former colleague at the supermarket. When I knew her, way back then, we were both teachers. Now, she is a literacy coach. When I started my teaching career, I’d planned to be in the classroom long enough to learn a thing or two about teaching and learning. I figured I’d teach for at least ten years, then work my way into coaching, like my former colleague, or in education policy.
When I hear about former colleagues that have moved on from teaching, I get a little twinge. I don’t know what it is. It’s not regret, really. Wistfulness, maybe? Or knowing that at this point, I am further behind in my career than I’d ever thought I’d be. This whole past year, I thought I didn’t want to go back into teaching. I wanted to move into policy or into non-profit work. Two weeks ago, stumbling into bed way past my bedtime, I closed my eyes and immediately had a dream-like vision of myself writing out lesson plans and teaching in front of a class. My eyes popped open. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was.
I’ve been tutoring a fifth grader. Originally, I was hired to help her with test preparation and her admissions essay for private school applications. The test came and went, so we began focusing on reading comprehension. I dipped into my teaching arsenal and came up with the Ramp-Up curriculum that I used with 9th graders. (Ramp-Up was a great curriculum–I was disappointed when the city moved on to the next fad.) Planning for our sessions has the predictable side effect of missing my teaching days–lesson planning was the part I enjoyed most.
I try to keep in the teaching and learning loop. I still read teaching blogs, I still follow the NYCWP listserv. I’m still a teaching geek at heart and maybe it’s time to stop denying that. I don’t think that I will make my whole career in the classroom but I do think I need to go back.
PS I’m not going back to teaching anytime soon. Alice will be in kindergarten in two years, and Stella still has three years to go. The cost of full-time childcare, even for one kid, is such that I will still be poor even if I work, so I’d rather be poor at home!
PPS Even if I wanted to go back now, the current hiring freeze makes it difficult. Hopefully, things will be different in 2015.
PPPS I won’t say never, though. It depends on the opportunity.