I’m not a very patient person (thanks mom). I wouldn’t say I’m overly impatient either (thanks dad). I am capable of rational and logic thinking when it comes to waiting for the goods, the this, the that. But that rational thought only gets me so far. Sooner or later I just want something to happen! Just a couple weeks ago I wrote about my current lack of forward progress. I wrote about how things in my life just aren’t moving quickly enough for me. And I concluded with the understanding that I needed to just be patient.
I’ve been patiently waiting for over a year. I left the classroom bruised and beaten, and with a heavy chip on my shoulder for public school. I won’t get into the dirty details, but those of you close to me know at least some parts of this story.
For a year I hemmed and hawed on education. It’s my passion, no doubt. But every time someone asked me if I was going to teach again, I’d say, “Well, not in a traditional public school.” I elaborated to say that I would teach in an “alternative” setting — like a private school or a charter school or a specialized school. Although around here, those opportunities are few and far between. But teaching in a “non-traditional” setting was always my preference. It’s how I taught (for better or worse) in my more “traditional” classroom, given some obvious limitations. For nine years my dream job was teaching at our district’s alternative program. It was like a charter school within the district. But that opportunity didn’t happen during my tenure.
After the chaos of leaving the high school mid-year, I needed to take a break from education, as much as I loved it. So this past year I’ve been working part-time in the cheese shop of a local, uh, grocery store. It’s really more than just your average grocery store. It’s a fancied-up version. And it’s been a really wonderful and meaningful experience for me. I never had the experience of working retail. Let me tell you — it’s not easy. You miss out on a lot of stuff. Your schedule isn’t consistent. And the public is not always nice. (But actually, I rarely encountered rude or ungrateful customers.)
I loved almost every single minute of that job. No, it wasn’t intellectually demanding. No, it wasn’t high stakes, high-pressure work. But it was fun and warm and friendly. I found ways of making it challenging. And I felt valued and important. No, we weren’t solving life’s problems in our little cheese shop, but we were doing meaningful work because we believed in providing a quality product (in this case, fancy cheese) to our customers.
Another side benefit of working in the cheese shop is it allowed me time and flexibility to grow in other areas of my life. Particularly my trail running. Retail hours suit trail running very nicely. I could run in the morning on my days off or before work. And even though I missed out on a lot of evenings with my kid and husband, I had a lot of unique time slots with them — both individually and together. The cheese shop gig also gave me stability while I continued the very important, hard work on my self. That job, the friendships I made there, the people I worked with, the value and importance I felt as an employee — these all were paramount to my personal growth. When I left the classroom I was fighting a lot of demons. A year and a half later and I feel like a whole different person. I’m alive and hopeful and joyful and excited about all the little adventures and challenges that come my way.
It’s been a great year in the cheese shop. And just shortly after I celebrated my one-year anniversary with the company, I had a very serendipitous conversation with a local teacher. This led to me applying for and accepting a teaching position at a local charter school. And so now I am transitioning away from this job I called home for the past year and back into the classroom, in an environment I believe will suit my education philosophy much better. I’m sad to be leaving my cheese family, but I’m so over-the-moon excited for this new chapter in my life. I can’t wait to meet my kids and get to know them, to teach and love and support them, to connect with colleagues and make new friendships, and to be a part of a community of teachers with like-minded philosophies.
I can already foresee how this new career will present some personal challenges: time for trail running, logistics of scheduling pickups and drop-offs, the strain on certain friendships. But life is not perfect, and there’s always going to be an element of stress and challenges. I’m ok with this. It will all work out. As long as there is patience and understanding and support, all those little challenges will work themselves out over time.
But, you guys…. I get to be a teacher again!
I have been patient… and forward progress is happening.