I wrote this over a month ago, but here it is now:
Today, my boss told me he’s leaving. He came into the science classroom when I was in there alone before lunch. He asked me if I was an admin on the Google stuff our school start using this year. I worried he was asking me this because he expected me to do more with it. But then he tells me he’s being dismissed. He said it so politely. “I’m being dismissed.” Not fired. Not forced out. He said he didn’t know when, but probably within a few weeks.
My first thought was: “NO!”
Then: “F**k it, If he’s gone, I’m gone too!” I imagined walking out in protest of this terrible decision by the school.
But he was so calm and rational. He explained he was clashing too much with the heads of the school and the chairman of the board was not happy. His friend, the VP, had to address the situation, so they would move him to another part of the organization (my school is run by a large company that does many different things, like build amusement parks and shopping malls, in addition to run a school with a totally backward idea of what education and learning should be).
So my boss will leave and I will also definitely leave too.
I was already planning on leaving after this year was over, but it felt like the hardest part would be telling my boss. He’s such a dedicated educator. He’s always describing teaching as his calling. He’s always pushing us to innovate and think creatively. He’s the type of leader that’s so focused that he kind of scare-inspires you to reach for your highest potential. That kind of leader can be exhausting, but just like a tough workout, incredibly rewarding. I think had I not felt pushed to try and always be innovating what I do, I wouldn’t’ve realized this type of teaching (kids, 9-5) isn’t for me. If I had instead been at a school where I was just expected to show up, teach a few pages from a book, grade, repeat, I would be incredibly bored. And I think I would think: this sucks. I wish I could be doing something that actually used my talents.
I might be fooled into thinking that under more ideal conditions, I would relish this type of work. My current gig is far from ideal – irregular internet in my classroom, experimental supplies show up weeks too late – but close enough that I can see that even if those and the other issues encountered weekly melted away, I would still feel exhausted in the bad sort of way. I’d like to find the thing that makes me want to push myself to be better, even in the face of exhaustion and/or failure.
When I was a competitive swimmer, I hit a peak where I couldn’t get faster no matter how much I tried. I cried often at swim meets. I described myself as an elephant constantly ramming into a brick wall. Eventually, I gave up. Said f**k it. Curled up to sleep next to the brick wall. I had to for my mental sanity.
I want to find that thing that doesn’t sadden me. Something that despite how challenging it may seem, keeps me wanting to ram against that wall. I don’t know if such a thing exists.
But I know now it’s not teaching. If it weren’t for my boss’ passion and leadership, I don’t know if I would’ve learned that about myself. I don’t think I would’ve realized I want to try to find the thing that makes me as dedicated and passionate as education makes him. For that, I’m thankful and sad to see him go.