It looks like I have fallen off of blogging for a bit—4 weeks to be exact. It’s not so much because the semester has gotten busier—I don’t think it has—but I have been so, so tired.
I think I am in a spot during the semester where the excitement of a new semester has worn off and the consistent overwhelm of the semester has worn me out.
Feeling like I always have too much work and too many students and classes to be able to do good work (at least in my definition) is my number 1 reason I want to leave full-time work.
I interpret a lot of the decisions my college’s administration makes to show that “good enough” is fine. We hire part-time instructors and pay them so little that we don’t require them to go to meetings or hold office hours (for students to meet with them individually). After implementing Dual Credit classes (where students get college credit during high school) over 10-15 years ago, we have only started observing the teachers in the last 2 years. We base class size on how much money the college needs instead of the ideal size for learning (overall—my dean has recently “won” the battle of having my department’s class size down by 2 students due to her argument about learning). If we can keep pushing students through and they do “good enough,” administration doesn’t complain. In fact, I don’t think I have ever heard of administration complaining about teaching ever—even when people who should not be teaching are involved.
I prefer to have individual relationships with my students, I want to support each one in ways they need, and I like to work with each one individually on their writing. It’s where my strengths lie. Trying to do these things for even half of the 110 students I start with a semester –or really trying to do these things for the few students per class who ask for support—is emotionally draining and also the only way I want to do things.
A few years ago, I came to a spot where I realized I had a choice. To better take care of myself, I could either distance myself from students (and uphold more boundaries) and likely feel less satisfaction, or embrace how I want to teach and be in the world (treating people as individuals, figuring out what students need and implementing that instead of having set rules), and I chose the ladder. I have learned a lot about myself, and it has been wonderful to help students grow and think differently. Despite the overwhelm, this is the right decision for me.
Basically, I am choosing to work in the way I want to for a shorter period of time, by leaving full-time work early, instead of putting up more boundaries and working longer. Post-retirement, I am looking for situations where I can teach how I want in a place that supports the way I want to be in the world.
In short, I want to quit so I can work. I want to leave full-time employment to have a more manageable life. I truly hope this includes teaching—I’m even willing to become one of the low- paid part-time employees so that I can teach in ways that fit my personality and values.
Peace Out (and In),
PS. I took photos of these cool-looking mushrooms in my yard to show a student who loves to draw mushrooms.