Monday, February 15, 2010

Does My Job Define Me?

money I was listening to a podcast the other day where the speaker was saying that she does her job just to pay her bills. She doesn’t like to talk much about it and tries to forget about it when she is not there at the job.

Then I began to think about how much I talk about teaching. I talk about it with other teachers and people in the education world but I also talk about it with non educators. I have been known to get in a conversation about education while I have been in line at the grocery store or to pay my taxes. I love to talk about my job. In fact, my hubby thinks I would talk to the wall about education if I couldn’t find someone else to listen.

There is no way that I could just leave my job at the door when I leave. It is not easy to turn the teacher mode off like an on or off switch. Many nights I have talked about the problems in the classroom with my husband and he has been able to give me a different perspective which helped me solve many problems. Many times I have discovered ideas for great lessons on the weekends and holidays. When I’m shopping, I may see something that would be a great tool to use in my classroom so my mind is always on alert for these things.

I’m not saying that I let teaching overshadow the other parts of my life. I know that there needs to be balance in my life. I have a wonderful family and exciting hobbies and interests so I don’t get burned out with teaching.

Maybe it is because I love teaching. Maybe the person who just “does the job to pay the bills” doesn’t love her job. I don’t know but I don’t think I want to teach that way. I don’t want someone like that teaching my own children. I don’t even like the thought of someone like that teaching other people’s children.

So, I guess I would recommend that if you feel that way, maybe you need to find another job that you enjoy. I’m not saying that any job will be happy land all of the time but life is too short to feel this way about a career. I think if I felt this way about my job more often than I didn’t, it is time to look elsewhere. I don’t think this attitude will lend itself to a successful career or even a successful life.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Money' by: Andrew Magill


Lona said...

It's funny, Pat, I'd wanted to "be" a teacher from the age of four. My paternal grandmother was a teacher and worked with me. I just knew that was what I wanted to do. Ultimately, I married and gave birth to 5 daughters before going to college and fulfilling my dream.

This month begins my 18th year as a High School Special Education Teacher. As much as I may "complain", I could never have found profession other than mother, that suits me so. My life defines my life is defined by my teaching. Isn't it wonderful?!

Scribbler said...

I move from one sphere to the other. Some weeks I am like you living and breathing my school work. Then I think I must burn out or something and I go into hibernation mode for a time.

When hibernating, school is just a job to me, something to pay the bills. I know that sounds strange but I just can't care when I am in that mode.

But, invariably something wakes me up again. A new unit, a student, another teacher, a blog post, whatever. It is all quite a roller coaster ride really.

MCinDC said...

I was once at an institute and we were introducing ourselves around the table. One of the people there said, "Teaching is what I do, not who I am." and I realized at that moment that I am a teacher, it is an essential part of who I am.

Hillary said...

Having been on both sides of this particular table, and sometimes wishing that I were able to just go home and not worry about my job, I guess I find this attitude puzzling and frankly, a tiny bit condescending. Teaching IS a job. No more, no less. What YOU make of it (and hopefully, what *I* make of it) makes it good for our students and ourselves. But there are plenty of good teachers who don't let it overtake their entire lives outside of school. Maybe there are lessons to be had there, too.

Just my two cents, and I ended up writing a blog post of my own after thinking on it a bit more:

loonyhiker said...

@Lona Congrats on all the years of being a sped teacher! There aren't many that stay in that long. I'm one of the few that I know who have stayed for 30 years. But I loved it! Maybe I'm crazy! Who knows! LOL

loonyhiker said...

@Scribbler I think we all go through phases of this which balances our lives out. As I said, I've gone through them too but it didn't stay with me forever. That is how I knew it would be alright!

loonyhiker said...

@MCinDC It is an essential part of me too! :)

loonyhiker said...

@Hillary Thanks for your comment. I left a comment on your post too. Here is what I left:
"I think you are right that Teaching shouldn't keep you from having a life. I think what is most important is that as a teacher, I should have balance in my life. But if don't invest a part of me in my job, that it lacks something. If you look at many good teachers, they don't treat it as if it is "just a job" but rather a part of themselves. Just from reading your post, I can tell that you might say it is "just a job" but part of you "is the job." I can tell you are a great teacher because if you weren't, you wouldn't work long hours, do the best you can, or even worry about your students. I have felt both also, but "just a job" doesn't stick with me all of the time. As I said, it is the balance in our lives that make it important.

Anonymous said...

My older brother is currently transistioning between careers and is going through a difficult time because he is looking for a new career that will make him happy. I blame his inabillity to settle on a new career on the commonly spread belief that one's career should make a person happy. I think this is only partially true.

Your career should not make you UNhappy. Teaching fits my personality, my passions, my interests, and my beliefs. I am the mold, not my career.