I’ve come up with a new metaphor for this particular moment of my career: noon. I am way past my first few jobs, like ice cream scooper and arts and crafts counselor, which represent my pre-dawn career. Actual dawn occurred for me after college as a permanent substitute teacher in Providence Public schools, which led me, first, to flee the country, and then, pursue a masters in education at Bank Street College. Think of my masters degree program as breakfast.
Following breakfast, five years ago, the sun rose on my career as a middle school English teacher in New York City public schools. I’ve now taught through the morning of my career, and have almost reached twelve o’clock noon. There is still plenty to be done, but I need some lunch, or I won’t last. Only in this career, there is no lunch hour, no cafeteria, not even a kitchen in sight. In fact, there’s no dinner either, and certainly no dessert. Just keep working ’til bedtime, says the contract. If you’re good, you’ll be able to take on more and more work at work. The satisfaction of being able to do it well will sustain you, both professionally and personally. Your students need you more than you need lunch or dinner, so don’t think about it. Just do it.
Here I am at the noon of my career with no lunch, watching countless colleagues bail out and head to various careers that feature 2 course lunches and 3 course dinners.
All metaphors aside, when I was asked bywww.publicschoolinsights.org what I thought should be done with the federal stimulus money for education, I wrote about the need for incentives–in the form of career opportunities with real promotions–to keep good teachers in the classroom teaching. Check it out here.