I am a teacher.
It’s all I ever wanted to be and all I ever considered being. And so I trained and became a teacher, a damn good one, in fact. Taught blended classes and within the first three years of teaching I’d taught grades 3-8. And so it went, teaching, teaching, teaching and as all good teachers know, learning, learning, learning.
Had my daughter and dropped down to two days a week teaching Talented and Gifted children, which, as deserving as that program is, is ridiculously named because all children are talented, all children are gifted, but apparently our world loves labels and acronyms, standardized tests and categories to point out all the ways we are, or are not, typical, so we can check off the right boxes and keep things all neat and tidy.
When my son was born I dropped down to just one day a week, in fact going back just six weeks after he was born, and frankly, loving every minute of my escape from his crying and incessant needs. Pushing up a chair against a closet door to assure nobody came in while pumping milk, was a piece of cake and a fraction of the stress that staying at home with him was. And so for a few years, three to be exact, I kept working one day a week and that day sustained me.
Then my son’s needs became even greater and his therapies so all consuming that even that one day away was too big a tax on his caregivers, and so I quit.
And while I haven’t missed the bureaucracy, the endless work, or the staff meetings, I’ve missed teaching. I’ve missed the high of making a difference in tangible ways. I’ve missed working with others. I’ve missed the social piece. I’ve missed it.
A couple of weeks ago I started teaching again. Another friend, also a former classroom teacher, and I began teaching memoir writing both on-line and in-person. We’ve each put about a million hours into the classes already, and our hourly income now hovers around $1.50, but it’s exhilarating. And the best part about it? It has nothing to do with special needs. Nothing. My mind is occupied hours and hours a day about something else. It feels like a brain vacation.
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. He had a dream. I have one, too, and now I’m living it.
I am a teacher.