Wednesday 20 March 2013

Why Are You Just a Teacher (part ii)

Remember back in May when I wrote this post? Give it a quick re-read if you want. I'll wait. Ho hum.

Ready? OK, well I had a similar sort of conversation a few weeks ago. To be honest, I have this conversation fairly often. Every single one of my classes has asked me at some point, why are you just a teacher? I'm used to it now, but something one of my students said a few weeks ago really hit home, and I'm still thinking about it now.

I was talking with one of my A level groups, and we must have been discussing universities or something. The question that is the bane of my life (see title, I can't face typing it again) came up, and as usual I deflected  it with some verbal hand-waving. But then a student, in the most sombre voice you've ever heard an eighteen year-old use, asked me, "Do you feel like you've achieved your dream?"

That's one of the problems with my school: we're so big on promoting following your dreams and believing you can achieve them. The students are so full of the optimism of youth. It's quite sickening really.

I just sort of stood there with my mouth trying to form words that my brain wouldn't supply. I needed to say yes. I needed to for them, because they need to believe that their teacher loves teaching them, and I needed to for me, because the opposite would mean admitting to myself that I have failed.

But I said no. I gave the word an extra two syllables, as if stretching it over three would distribute the weight of its meaning. It came out like this, "...Nuh-oh?-oh..." That's right, the question mark was in the middle of the word. I didn't even know that was possible. Try it.

I think at that point I distracted them with the estimated monetary value algorithm. But I kept thinking about it.

I think a teacher was what I was meant to be. But maybe I'm not. Yeah, I love maths, and I love sharing my passion with others, and I love speaking in front of an audience, and I love teenagers, but is teaching the only job that fits with all that? And what about my other passions: dance, fashion, reading, writing blogs?

Well there's probably not a job that encompasses all of those things. But this notion of a "job" is so old fashioned anyway. These days, you don't have to have a "job". In this day and age, there are people out there making money from just about everything. At the weekend I read a couple of books on this subject: Be a Free Range Human and Screw Work Let's Play. These books are all about escaping the 9-5 and making money from something you enjoy. I would not quit teaching at this stage, I'm far too attached to having a roof over my head (call me materialistic), but there are some great ideas for side projects that can be done alongside your regular job. The idea is that when these become profitable you quit your day job.

I became a little bit inspired. What could I do to achieve my dream whilst still teaching full time?

One of the suggestions was blogging. As much as I enjoy writing this blog, I have to accept that it probably won't ever make any money. I know some people do make money from blogs, with advertising and sponsorships etc, but if they say that sex sells, then a blog about teaching maths is going home at the end of the day with a full briefcase and an empty wallet.

Do you feel like you've achieved your dream?

Emma x x x

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