joy · struggle · TEACHING

Can’t Hardly Wait

2.14.18 cant hardly wait

In an uncanny manifestation of the maxim, “What you resist persists,” I am now an English Teacher.  Woe, that I defied this title, this job, for years!  Struggling against the inexorable pull, sneering at the middling title, eschewing a complacent slide into the profession.  (“Those who can’t do, teach.” …)

As a creative writer since youth, an English major, an English Master, a poet, blogger, and storyteller, I felt that to accept the job of English Teacher was sooo woefully predictable.  So average.  So unambitious.  So … basic.

Therefore, I skated around the pit I saw the job to be, and instead languished in all office jobs related to writing!  “Marketing.”  “Communications.”  Death.

Until the magnetic pull of what is the natural fiber of my being caught me, like an x-wing in a tractor beam.  Call it circumstance, fate, desperation, but I needed a new job, and a financially and professional flailing 30-something is not very attractive — to me or anyone else.

So, here I am, a Middle School English Teacher.

Just what I always resisted; just what I always wanted.

Middle school, I’d imagined, would be my preferred age-range (harrowing and potent as those years can be).  And I couldn’t have been more accurate.  I love this age.  Teaching this age, not being — being that age was horrible for me.  Therefore, I’d always thought that I wanted to help usher and guide upcoming youth through that awkward, excruciating time.

In this, my new and current school, my first year as a full-time MS English Teacher, I have discovered that I fit seamlessly.  My homework is to read YA literature; my day work is to discuss it.  My class work means I invent journal prompts for my students, like, “Write a Love Letter to a Piece of Nature,” or, for Tu B’Shevat: “You are a Tree.  Write at least 10 sentences.”

Recently, when I lamented to my boss that I emphatically did not enjoy or want to teach the book my 6th graders are assigned (one listed on the curriculum for years), whined that the language was too difficult for my more struggling readers, she merely replied: So don’t.

“Find a book that you truly love, that you can’t wait to teach.  And let me know.”

The end.  End of story, of lamenting, of struggle.  End of desperation.

Do what you love, the literature tells us.  Do what you love, my boss tells me.

Woe, that I resisted it so long.



3 thoughts on “Can’t Hardly Wait

  1. Okay, we sound a bit like the same person. I taught MS English up until this year because I’m pursuing other creative projects. People always thought I was crazy to teach middle school, but something about that age group fit well with me. They are mature enough for great conversations but young enough to really look up to us and be molded (if that doesn’t sound wrong, lol).

    It sounds like you’ve found a great school (and maybe school district). May I recommend The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I read it with my 7th graders every year and they love it to freaking death and so do I. There’s also a movie and audio recordings available.


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