Today I finally started doing a little planning for after break (although the grading is still untouched...) and looking at my lesson plan template, realized that it is sooo close to being January 2010. Wow, 2010? When did that happen?? This time last year I was thinking the very same thing about 2009. 2009 had always seemed like that far off in the future year I would eventually graduate from college, and then suddenly, it was here. Last New Year's I remember thinking that it was the first New Year's when I had absolutely NO IDEA where my life would take me in the next year. Well, as I sit here typing this in my childhood home at a desk I got when I was about 10, at first it would seem like nothing's changed. When in reality, soo much has.
Anyways, on that note, with it being both the start of a brand new year and nearly the halfway point of my very first year teaching, I've been doing some thinking about my plans for next year. When I took this job, I didn't tell a lot of people that I was planning on only staying here for a year before leaving to pursue my life-long dream of service abroad. But even though I didn't tell everyone, I was fairly certain that that was my plan. Now that I'm here...things are less clear. Basically, here's the dilemma: service abroad is still my dream. When I think of how amazing it would be to travel to an impoverished country and help improve the schools and train teachers, it feels like the most exciting thing in the world. But, realistically, when I think about leaving this school...I have second thoughts.
It's not that I love going into work every day and can't imagine every being anywhere else. On the contrary, while I love teaching and believe this is my life's work, this first year has been incredibly difficult. It's more that after the hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears that I have poured into my teaching, my classroom, and my kids these past few months, I cannot imagine leaving and starting over somewhere new. Everyone told me the first year would be the hardest, and they didn't exaggerate--it has been rough. But after putting so much effort into building the foundation for my career here, I can't really imagine leaving it behind to start fresh at something else, and then returning to the profession in a few years only to start completely over yet again. Shouldn't I plant some roots here for while, grow as a teacher, develop a routine? Shouldn't I hang onto the job I am SO LUCKY to have and learn all I can while I am here?
^ A counselor once told me that playing the game of "the shoulds" is a dangerous habit to fall into. You know, that game where you tell yourself over and over what you "should" and "shouldn't" be doing, thinking, feeling. Right now, I'm thinking a lot of "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" when I consider what I should do here. The reality is, this may not be the right school for me for the rest of my life. But how can I leave after just 1 year when there is so much I have to learn and to give back in return?
Another reality is that a little part of me keeps thinking that I have somehow taken the "easy way out" and settled for what is comfortable (yet again). I am comfortable living here and I am comfortable working another year in the suburbs. This is more "sure" and definitely more comfortable than taking a huge risk to leave and go live in a third world country for awhile. But the thing I have to remember is that this job and this career really is ANYTHING but the easy way out. There is nothing about teaching (and certainly nothing about the school I am at) that is easy. NOTHING. And this is not just "some job" that I have for now to pay the bills. This is a career I am passionate about and a career that allows me a very special opporutnity to help children who really need me and to make a difference in my own community right here in the suburbs. The truth is, you don't need to travel to the third world to find kids who need love and support and good teachers. The need is right here. So as much as a little part of me keeps thinking I've "settled," in reality I've done nothing of the kind. I have a job that is stimulating, challenging, and meaningful. And whether I leave or stay, I know in my heart that it can't be because of some "should" I am feeling. There is no "easy option."
What it boils down to is that I am just a little bit confused. I thought my late nights of soul-searching would end when I graduated college, but it turns out I am still in the middle of a "quarter-life crisis." Sigh... But honestly, I think I will end up staying right here, learning all I can, and making all the difference I can right in my own little community.