I can’t really leave teaching on better terms than these.
I never coached tennis. I never sponsored a club. I didn’t attend the plays or games or concerts I always felt I should have. I regret that. I never watched a freshman class graduate, never saw them from the start of high school to the finish. I regret that most of all.
But I have made amends with classroom management, time management, and compensation, the challenges which, at various points over five years, had me talking to admissions officers at schools of engineering and medicine. After five years, I am unequivocally a “happy” teacher.
I regard this professional transformation (from miserable to happy, incompetent to competent) with complete stupefication. The arc of a new teacher’s development is short and bends in any number of directions. My own was filled from beginning to end with lucky coincidences, chance mentors who appeared and disappeared at the exact moment I most needed them, hobbies from my childhood which came back around to pay off huge dividends in my classroom. I can’t explain any of it. I know I could do it all over again and arrive a completely different teacher.
I need to get a fix on some larger issues of teacher development and I can’t do that from the ground level here, from the classroom, with blog posts scattered around and squeaked out in the fifteen-minute interval after lesson planning ends and before my wife gets off shift. I am enrolled in in the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for the fall, to what end I don’t yet know. But I’m ready to spend half a decade or more pursuing the answer to a single, confounding question.