I should probably have mentioned that I hate my job.
It is hard. There’s a constant stream of angry middle school students in front of me, who aren’t sent to me until the situation is so dire that the teacher feels helpless. They are explosive and defiant and wildly irrational and I have to serve justice while getting them back into their right minds. I often have to do this while simultaneously managing the other student(s) having a meltdown in the room next door.
It is overwhelmingly heartbreaking. If it’s really terrible and it happened to a child, it ends up in my office. When your parents are beating you and there’s no food in the house and the heat just got shut off and the only person who loves you just got murdered while you watched, you end up in my office. I go to court with kids and communicate constantly with child protective services. I’m supposed to prevent suicides and stop wrist cutting and address substance abuse. It is the entire emotional weight of a middle school.
The hours are endless. No matter what else I should be doing, my first priority is whatever emergency needs to be addressed. There’s almost always some degree of fire that needs to be put out and that usually keeps me moving all day long. In my rare moments of calm, I’m expected to be proactively in classrooms and working with teachers and students. Notice that leaves no time for paperwork, family communication, meetings, or planning and developing all the projects I’m supposed to implement. It also leaves no time for bathroom or food. Those things all have to wait until the kids go home.
It is thankless. We can all see so clearly when I fail at something. Any kid who misbehaves at any time can somehow be traced back to me. I wasn’t proactive enough, I wasn’t intimidating enough, I didn’t support the teacher enough, I didn’t establish the school culture right. My big successes come when ridiculously tough kids show marginal improvements, when fights don’t happen, and when dangerous things are found before harm is done. Who wants to celebrate any of those things? I have the world’s best, most supportive and appreciative teaching staff behind me, and I can still say no one wants to celebrate that.
Last winter, everyone in my personal life started telling me to quit at the end of the year. All signs pointed to not doing this again, but deep down I didn’t want to leave. I was excited at the chance to try again, to do things differently, to get a chance to improve. I had a million things that I was working on and wanted to see through. I love my kids and didn’t want to say goodbye. I hated the thought of leaving while things felt unfinished.
Now that the school year is ending, I can’t believe I committed to stay. I miss teaching in a deep, achy sort of way. I can’t reminisce on the last year because all it does is make me cringe and realize how much I went through. The year was far too long and I feel like I’m running on fumes just to drag myself to the end. I really promised to do it again? I’m going to need a magical bolt of enthusiasm if I’m expected to get in my car and drive to work every day.