Knowing What You’re Doing is the Ultimate Myth

This past year has been one for the ages. At least, it has been for me, and as far as I can tell, I am the only teller of my own tale (Homer, you’re welcome to chime in at any time). In addition to taking online classes, I have also been teaching full time, both at a Nameless Charter School during the week and at a Nameless Nonprofit on the weekends. There are some days when I am so exhausted that all I can do is collapse where I am, despite the laundry list of things to do that are running through my head. I used to joke with my teacher friends about how teaching is the ultimate masochistic profession- between the grades, kids being wild, the politics, the lesson plans, the parents, and hours upon hours of professional development that you don’t really need, your friends ask, “Good god, why would you do that to yourself? I’d hate being a teacher.” And your answer is always, “Oh, but I love it!” Because ultimately, seeing the smile on a child’s face when they finally get “it” makes all of (mostly mine) the blood, sweat, and tears worth it.

Why push myself to this limit? I already have a Masters degree from an Ivy League University- why do I need to take online classes on top of it? (And that’s not even to mention the personal events happening as well.) Frankly, because I love it. I love spending my subway rides reading Dr. Amy Sturgis’ “When Harry Met Faerie,” or G.K. Chesterton’s “Ethics of Elfland.” I love being able to drop little tidbits of information to my wide-eyed sixth graders, who can barely conceive of the fact that there is a difference between a fairy and Faerie. My world has grown exponentially since starting my classes at Signum University, and I want to continue learning and growing. I wanted to continue teaching and honing my practice so that my students could learn more about the magic that is the world of Faerie.

Recently, I had a meeting with the principal of a Nameless Charter school, who decided that I was not to be offered a contract for next year. This was my third teaching position in three years. It was at this school that I had truly felt at home, felt that I was improving my teaching practice and becoming a better teacher. To say that I was devastated when I received the news would be an understatement. Even now, I am still angry as I type these words because I put so much effort into my own improvement as well as my students. What scares me the most is that I don’t know what will happen next.

Ultimately, I’ve decided to take a break from teaching. I don’t have the heart for it anymore. Three jobs in three years doesn’t seem like much, but to me, they have been the longest, most difficult three years of my life. There’s no joy in the job anymore, and I’ve only just started. Will I go back to teaching one day? I certainly hope so. But for now, I need to find a different way to teach what I want to teach, to learn what I want to learn, and experience the magic again.

Author: Elise TC

Fantasy Literature Scholar and Literacy Educator MA: Teachers College Columbia University and Signum University

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