I was a 2nd year teacher drop-out. I felt like a failure as a person and as a professional. Most of all, I felt like I had failed my high school science, biology and chemistry students.
It was November and I had been working long days trying to keep up the pace of lesson planning, grading and attempting to maintain some balance in my new professional life as a teacher.
I remember getting many warnings in my college days about the difficulties of being a teacher and especially in the first year, but I overestimated my abilities to keep pace with my own standards of perfectionism.
Let’s be honest. I burnt out. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had to resign half way through the year leaving my students stranded and the high school scrambling to find a replacement. I put my resume out to nearly any job I could find but the market was nearly as grim as my own outlook.
You know what the worst part of it was? I loved education and I loved my students. How would anyone hire me in the field when I resigned from a full-time teaching appointment? I figured I wouldn’t be able to ever work in education again.
So I decided to start subbing.
Yes, that’s right, I was a substitute teacher right after quitting a full-time teaching job. Being a substitute teacher is hard enough in and of itself, but being one after being a teacher drop-out is excruciatingly humiliating. But I knew I needed to swallow my pride, focus on my own health first and then re-build myself as a professional from the ground up.
Things I learned
It was difficult times, but I had amazing family, friends and professionals who supported me through the dark night. I wouldn’t wish the circumstances on anyone, but I also wouldn’t trade the lessons I learned at the earliest days of my career for the world.
I was blessed with hard life-lessons on understanding my own limitations, on developing a healthy work-life balance, on understanding myself on a fundamentally human level vs. viewing my own self-worth through the lens of an externally professional reputation.
Do I still struggle with these things?
Have I arrived?
Am I making any progress?
And you know what?
I still am an educator.
Mostly, I get to work every day as a human being helping other people through the difficult and important work of teaching and learning.
*I am forever grateful for the many people in my life who have believed in me even when I haven’t believed in myself. I wouldn’t be here without you and I stand on your shoulders as I do the meaningful work of believing in others around me.