Breaking Up with a Job You Love

Creative, Education, Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…

It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers.  We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work.  Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with a self-imposed misogynistic names.

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Arm Me With… (From an educator to the system)

Education

Arm me with the ability to successfully teach; give me a task that is not impossible. Hire me in a position where I really do act as an educator instead of a babysitter or cog in a wheel. Allow me to make decisions and change in education, and take that ability away from people who have never stepped foot in the classroom. Respect me enough to trust my opinion and treat me as a professional. Stop giving us tasks that, at first brim with a tempting frothy hope, but then fade into hopelessness. My heart was so full before I took this job, and now it is simply bitter and angry at the field of education.

The Balancing Act: Teaching Openly in the Humanities (Part II)

Education

One of the hardest things about teaching is the acting.

When you have a weekend, or even just a night, where certain situations push you to emotional exhaustion, or even go so far as changing you, putting an eternal dent in your identity. And then, you suddenly find yourself sitting in front of a class, wondering how to bring the pieces of your mind together. How to convince them that you’re okay when a rush of thoughts are occurring in your head, and your heart sinks into your chest. When you have to remain in the present for them, but the sensation of falling is pulling you back towards stagnation. Grief weighs the most when you stop.

It’s all Semantics to Me

Education

It’s 7 a.m. and the wheels of my brain are already in spin, its synapses engaged with one of the Great Courses audiobooks from Audible.

In graduate school, the mornings became my haven of thought and research. Gone were my college all-nighters–filled with a glass of wine for inspiration and the double shots of espresso and writing until I got kicked out of the local coffee shop; after which, I would go back to my apartment and sit at my desk, surrounded by notes from my roommates: that I should go to sleep and cease the habit of housing four different types of liquids (normally water, coffee, tea, and diet coke).

The me of the present, who now shuts down mentally at 10 p.m., questions how any of that was possible; but, it does not deny the credibility of memories backed by my lovely and brutally honest college roommates who dislike the name Peter, know that a Mike Tyson can also be George Forman, and question my love of succulents.

Flashes of Light: Present Moments

Thoughts

As a teacher, there are always little flashes of light.

Iridescent glimmers after long hours of digging. Dirt under your nails. Grit in your teeth. A rasp in your breath as you are suddenly able to inhale, with clarity in your lungs, a purpose. The scent of rain after a long drought… the kind that lingers in the air and forms steam off asphalt.  That makes wilted plants perk up. It makes the waiting worth it.

The thought of hope made tangible is an addiction worth giving into.

And then there is, of course, the sudden fade to black and dust that I often lose myself in. Blinded by bureaucracy and unrelenting tasks. Suffocated by the lack of positivity. The pile of a to do list that hopelessly grows in the face of the illogical. When you are constantly assessing what you need to do, you begin to wonder if you will ever have time to be yourself again. How can you when your day often stretches beyond the uncomfortable limit of ten hours? The weight of students is often combined with the weight of leaving a personal life behind –writing, riding, gardening, adventuring, loved ones. They tug at each other. But you need both.

First Years and Appreciation: We Are Not Falling Apart

Creative, Education, Thoughts
‘The Learning process is something you can incite, literally, incite, like a riot.’ This is what happened that year. We read and talked and disagreed, and the world, so very much world, began to shake inside us as we found our humanity in all this inhumanity, found empathy and compassion, found moral compasses, as we learned to hold history accountable, to hold the newspaper headlines accountable, to hold each other accountable. And all this in English class, not at home, not at church or temple or mosque, but from reading novels with Ms. W. In one year, she turned us into thinkers. I began to understand reading and writing as a revolution, thinking as being a profoundly active verb. I began to understand that a person writing quietly in a room might be burning down the world. And then rebuilding it, word by word, into something magnificent.” -Audre Lorde

It’s a damp, muggy, beautiful July morning in Charleston. I am doing yoga beneath the ancient oak tree that sits by my apartment. From my twisted angle, the sun flickers a honeyed-yellow light between the pieces of Spanish moss. I inhale slowly and close my eyes, forgetting the last of the moving boxes I have to pack. Imagining myself at the front of a high school classroom–finally achieving my purpose: making a difference. I love my college kids, and I am still so passionate about teaching them, but the mentality of the ivory tower drained my idealism within my teaching philosophy.

Practice and Preach

Thoughts

 

I write this stricken with a tinge of guilt on my shoulder, wondering if I still can. Wondering if I should. And then ultimately realizing that the wondering is simply a manner of coming up with excuses not to.

“Don’t compose this sentence,” the backspace beckons. My finger reaches for the key. It’s impulse. You haven’t written anything in a while. You’re not a writer anymore. Probably not good enough.

The mind can be SUCH a jerk sometimes. So can whiteout. And the backspace key. And those really chalky erasers. And fights against the Arkham Knight in the Bat Mobile. Moral: lots of things are jerks.

Though despite my guilt, I write this in happiness and contentment. I’m starting to grow and snuggle into a career field I see myself pursuing for the long-haul. One that I am optimistic and passionate about. I am also in a place that allows me to be in nature, work with wildlife and horses again, and open up to the idealistic identity I thought I lost for a little while; though, I think I prefer the term under-construction as opposed to lost.

It’s been ages since I’ve written in this blog, or really written anything outside of a class syllabus. It’s been ages since I’ve poured my time, experiences, memories, and moments into something that was both professional and personal to me. Teaching, in many ways, can be personal, but it is also inundated in connections and social interactions. Teaching at this point, consumes most of my thoughts. How will my lesson plan go tomorrow? What creative activity can I have my kids do to emphasize a point? What do I want my kids to learn? How can I help those who need more assistance? Does this material make sense for multiple intelligences? How is this going to tie in later on? How can I make sure my students are learning at all? What do I need to grade? How can I grade fairly? These questions are never easily answered, and when they are, their answers change. I love dwelling on these things, in the space of ambivalence and creativity.

But I think I’ve gotten to the point where I need to take time to separate my life from my career–a concept that I think is foreign to most who are in or have recently finished grad school. And ideally, that’s what getting back to writing will help me do. Reflection is sometimes the best of teachers… and as an English and writing teacher, I feel like I should probably practice what I preach. So my goal, is that once a week, I will have a piece up on this blog again. It might be an article I’ve recently published, an interview, a reflection, a story, an idea, a blurb, a recipe, an independent clause. I can’t guarantee what it will be, but it will have words. Beautiful, meaningful, fulfilling words.*

*I’m not saying I write beautiful words, I’m saying words in-and-of-themselves are beautiful, and might actually be made less beautiful in the context of this blog (RIP words: thanks for being useful). But it’s still pretty mind-blowing to me that symbols can carry emotional meaning with them. Carl Sagan uses them real good.

On the Infinite and Everything

Creative, Portfolio, Thoughts

I thought the moment I passed my Master’s defense my brain would shutdown.

That it would pause for a little while before preparing to pick up the last bits of the semester–to finish teaching, grading, researching, and learning.

It would be like those movies where a nuclear bomb goes off and then the chilling moment of silence ensues as remnants of dust dance to the ground.