It’s been three years and four months since I stopped teaching and not a day passes by when I don’t miss it. The saying that “you never know what you got till you lose it” has never rung so true in my case. When I quit, I took it for granted that I will be back in the classroom eventually. Now, sitting behind this desk checking lesson plans and filling out forms is striking me as so odd I have to pause and ask myself, “Oh my God, what the hell am I doing here?” Please. Don’t get me wrong. I love this job as well. It has opened my mind to a lot of new things, it is very challenging and is helping me hone my problem solving and decision-making skills, it has afforded me some measure of convenience, and most of all, it has allowed me more time to meet my family obligations—all of which were not available to me in my previous employment. But I couldn’t help feeling trapped, stagnant, restless. On the other hand, I am also aware that somehow I have climbed up the proverbial umm, corporate ladder, so to speak, and I’m proud of this tiny achievement. Moreover, the possibilities of other, wider career opportunities are endless. I do hate to brag but the truth is, I do have what it takes to really get there if I set my mind to it.
So, this job should have been perfect, except for one glaring irony: I work in a school but I do not get to teach in it.
I do not suffer from illusions of grandeur and think myself indispensable in the teaching profession. Clearly, school years went on without me. And I do not think I’m that good a teacher either. Still, I believe there is so much I can share. There is so much out there that I wish my students to discover, and there is nothing I’d want more than to be with them as we plumb the depths or skim surfaces of ideas and experiences together. As a language and literature teacher, I thrived in the challenge of a text, the ambiguity of meanings, complexities of syntax. Being able to lead students to “break a text” and listen to their insights and eventually engage their interests, are to me the ultimate high.
I once read a modern philosopher saying that teachers are like bridges who invite their students to cross, and then happily collapsing afterwards. I sometimes feel that way about teaching: closing gaps and creating ripples. But, I will just have to miss it for now. Maybe later, fate would lead me back to it.