Long Story Short: Back to teaching

About a month ago I decided to go back into full-time teaching.

Mine was not a decision taken lightly. The last time I taught high school, I was young. Fresh out of college. Ready and willing to change the world.

Much of my initial teaching experience did what it could to take the pluck out of me. I left that job (and the South) and moved out West. Like a line from Dr. Seuss, it’s opener there in the wide-open air.

I started working in a different field, but I could never get completely away from teaching or the rest of my Southern roots. I taught writing classes at night. I went to Europe and taught English. I taught political refugees in Washington, D.C. I taught at-risk high school students along the Texas/Mexico border.

No matter what other work I did, a part of my heart was always in the education system.

However, those first two years quenched my desire to be in the classroom full-time until recently when I started thinking a little too long and hard about a couple of lines from a song in Mamma Mia.

The song was from a mother to her daughter. The mother sang to her daughter in the hours before the daughter’s wedding.

It’s sappy and represents a sentimental melancholy that a more accomplished writer would not admit to falling for, but I couldn’t help myself.

“What happened to the wonderful adventures? The places I had planned for us to go? Well, some of that we did, but most we didn’t. And why, I just don’t know.”

That’s the part that got to me. My daughters are 11 and 7. I realize the time is slipping through my fingers. I want to make good on more of those adventures I planned for us to take. I related to the mother’s sentiments on every level except one.

I knew why we hadn’t done all the things I had hoped and planned. The reason was simple.

Time.

The life of a full-time working mother is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Though my reasons were more complex, one of my primary motivations in getting back into full-time educator related to that old adage about the three best things about being a teacher.

June. July. August.

We’re down to two these days (since school starts in early August).

Even still, June and July should offer plenty of time for adventure.

In the meantime, I’ve been fully reminded of the reasons teachers love and hate their classrooms. There’s too much time spent on students who demonstrate no interest in learning, and too little spent on those who steadily do what they’re supposed to do. Squeaky wheels get too much of the grease.

Yet, there have been a couple of those moments every teacher teaches for – those brief shining moments when you know that you’ve reached a student. Every time it happens, I know the exact moment something changes within the student standing in front of me. There is, without question, a certain look in the eyes.

As of yet, I haven’t figured out what kinds of stars have to align to make more of those moments happen, but I’m setting out to do what I can.

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