Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Teachers Never Die...They Just Go To Home Depot.

The school I work at is preparing to perform West Side Story. Not my favorite musical, but not my choice. Moving on....
I am attempting to fix the steps the actors and actresses will be using to get up to the scaffolding (there is a balcony in the show, you know. It's essentially a musical version of Romeo and Juliet).
So, in order to save money, I had to go and pick up the wood. For those of you who have never done it before, it's $59 for any delivery. I was only getting some boards and a sheet of plywood.
So, I start talking to the guy behind the contractor's desk about getting the wood together.
"Where's this going?" he asks.
I tell him the name of my school.
"Oh...what for?"
I tell him about the show.
"So are you a teacher?"
"Yes," I reply.
"What do you teach?"
At this point I start feeling that little pang of frustration you get when a person is bored and trying to learn your life story.
"I'm an English teacher."
"Really? I used to be an English teacher in Farmington."
It's at this point that my jaw must have gone slack, because he next asks me:
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah," I reply. "Just shocked. How did you go from teaching to...uh...here?"
"I got sick of the politics. I loved the kids, but I hated everyone else. There was a day.... A student tried to hit me....I...responded in kind by throwing him up on the wall. I was protecting myself. The principal disagreed. It was crap."
I listened to him for ten minutes talking about all the reasons why he left. I felt like a priest taking confession.
"Let me ask you a question," he said to me finally. I felt like an idiot standing there with all of my lumber.
"Go ahead," I put forward.
"Do you like teaching?"
"Yes. I like working with the kids. Even when I want to put a head through a wall, I would take working with these kids over working with man-children any day."
"That will change."
Such negativity.
He continued.
"I no longer miss the classroom. This (he indicates the store) is easier to deal with on a daily basis."
I start to go.
"I'm not the only one here who's a former teacher."
He indicates three other people standing together.
"Ted and Rhett used to teach in Bloomington. Sheryl (or maybe it was Cheryl, I didn't see her apron) was a teacher in Apple Valley. All three left for the same reason I did. Too much politics, not enough autonomy in the classroom." (The fact he used autonomy shows me he was an English teacher.)
While packing my car with the lumber I had just bought, I started to wonder: "Is this my future?"
Will I end up leaving teaching at some point, disillusioned by everything, and working behind a counter at a home improvement store?
"Light bulbs? Aisle four. Shattered dreams and burnouts? Those of us who work here."
I don't know.
I love teaching.
A colleague of mine always says, "The hardest part of teaching...is the other teachers. Not the students, but your colleagues."
I don't know where I'm going with this, but the shock of talking to the guy at Home Desperate really got me thinking about my future.
PTCs are tomorrow. Huzzah.
Oh, and Greta? Congrats. Yahk-ob (as I call him) is a nice boy.
Namaste.

5 comments:

Laura said...

Don't sweat it.
Granted, I'm just starting out, but I love this job way to much to see myself doing anything else any time soon.
Sure the other teachers are frustrating, but hey - it makes for great stories about *crazy* co-workers.
His heart wasn't in it.
From what I can tell, yours is.

Laura said...

Don't sweat it.
Granted, I'm just starting out, but I love this job way too much to see myself doing anything else any time soon.
Sure the other teachers are frustrating, but hey - it makes for great stories about *crazy* co-workers.
His heart wasn't in it.
From what I can tell, yours is.

me type good.

greta said...

thanks leab-o.

wow, news travels fast!

cat said...

Hey Leab, if it is the teachers that drive you nuts, you are going to get that any where. Not in teachers, but co-workers. Some of mine drive me nuts too. But if you love what you do, and it is obvious that you do, then it is your calling. I would bet that you are a great teacher. But coming from a family of teachers(literally great aunts and grandma on down to my sister)I know it takes a special type of person to love teaching and be good at it! I believe you are that special type of person! And I mean that in the hightest respect and awe. I could never deal with all those sassy kids every day. I just do not see you at the Hardware Store or something, working, unless it is after you retire and you want to get a P/T job. Anyways, good luck at PTC tonight, I hope you have that bottle of wine at home ready for afterwards!

Admin Worm said...

Former teachers are everywhere in the administrative world, Leab. I meet a lot of people who taught for a year or two then moved into office work. Why? Better pay...and politics.

I considered teaching, but don't think I could handle the bickering.

At my college, I see a lot of young women (not being sexist, it's just the truth) who are going to major in education. They're always fresh-faced 20-year olds who have visions of fingerpaints and storytime in their heads.

Nothing ever turns out as good as you think it will.