A particular way in which I'm disappointed in myself is the pessimism I've had about job prospects in my career. Those prospects are lousy. It's very challenging for a young teacher to work into a position in virtually any school district in this area. Too often I've found myself musing that I could never recommend a young man/woman get into this line of work.
It's time to take the holiday (happy 5775, folks!) to pledge that I'll stop talking that way. It's getting old. It's making me sound old.
If you are reading this blog and you enjoy working with children, savor the thrill of the classroom, and take great satisfaction in helping boys and girls grow into thoughtful, responsible adults, come on in. It's tough to find a good, stable position in this career, but any job that is worthwhile presents challenge. If you are reading this blog and know somewhat who wants to do all these worthwhile things with youth, convince them to join.
A worthwhile profession puts the professional in a point of perpetual tension. I think about how doctors must constantly reconcile their concerns for patients' health with insurers' preoccupation over cost. Teachers work with children and are guided by doing what's best for those kids and what preserves the integrity of the discipline they're trying to teach. Meanwhile, they're doing so with limits imposed by a democratically elected board of governance that wants to preserve taxpayers' resources. How can we not expect to feel tugged in opposing directions.
Of course it doesn't help that we're vilified, but so are many other professions. There's a lot of petty jealousy that we have unions representing us by individuals who aren't mindful of the protections (union-brokered or not) that exist in their own work environment. Then, of course, there's the resentment over the "summers off" that we enjoy.
Meanwhile I try to keep my comments to myself when I read pieces in the news about business class seating on airplanes, wondering when I'll ever fly business class (or even have my district pay for me to attend a conference). There's no point in jealousy about the perks of other professions.
If I complain too much about the rigors of entering this line of work, I dismiss the reasons why I entered it myself and why I remain in it. I downplay the reasons why I take pride in the work that I do. Have I been a fool for 17 years? I really hope that's not the case. Perhaps instead of complaining I should do more to leverage my strengths (as a veteran teacher, taxpayer, parent of public school students, individual versed in economics, and voter) to make the profession more hospitable for good young teachers. That would take courage and sacrifice (albeit small sacrifice), much more than it requires to pile on to the air of pessimism surrounding my profession.