Yesterday was my last full day of teaching. The exams start today for 3 of our year groups, a fourth has finished for the year and the 6th years are on study leave. Only one group will continue to have classes for the next week.
I did it. I made it through. Peak busy has come and gone, and while there’s plenty to get done over the next week and a half, it can finally be done at a much more relaxed pace. There was a final frenzied flurry of activity as a broken collar-bone for one of my students meant a last minute rush to find a replacement for the upcoming marathon-relay.
I kept my foot on the throttle with pretty much all my classes right up to the last minute. I don’t usually do that. It’s usually a little more relaxed by this time. Something in this year though … it’s felt like more of a difficult work year than previous ones. I really hope it’s an anomaly.
Something that brings me a lot of joy at the end of the academic year is to get a thank-you note or two from some of my students. I worry that desire makes me a little childish or reward-seeking or something like that. All the same, I think people in any job like to get a bit of feedback about how they are doing. For teachers, that validation seems truest coming from the students themselves. There’s a little bit of it at parent-teacher meetings too, and this year with my “extra” group of final years, I had my least-favourite parent-teacher meeting ever.
I would have really appreciated a thank-you note or message from that leaving cert group. I do think in the end they appreciated the work I did with them, but right now they’re too stressed about the upcoming exam to think of much else.
However, I received some lovely notes of appreciation from some of my other groups, and I’ve got to say that it really lifted my spirits. Students for whom my subject is challenging and frustrating still feel like they can enjoy maths class. To me, that’s the goal.
So now, a break for 12 weeks, then do it all over again.
Well, not quite yet. There are a few tail-end tasks to wrap up. Then a break for 12 weeks. Then do it all over again.
I wonder if I will be content to stay in this job for the rest of my life. Right now, I still feel like I’m learning something every year. I feel like I’m growing, learning patience, learning about human nature, gaining new perspective into maths. It’s good. I like a lot about it.
And if I could afford to, I would stop working tomorrow morning. Does that mean that teaching is not my vocation? Maybe. I enjoy it well enough for it to be sustainable as a job that I need to do in order to earn money and live though. It adds to my life (mostly) rather than draining it. I wish I could afford to do about 10% less though. Then at the crush times it wouldn’t get quite so overwhelming.
What do I want to be doing with my life? So much. So so very much. I want to study more and learn more. I want to practice skills like cooking and crafting. I want to spend time with my children, learning better who they are as people. I want to draw and paint and immerse myself in art and expression. I want to travel and think and philosophise. I want to capture moments of the world on camera. I want to sit in peace and stillness. I want to push my body in exercise. I want to consume media and content and I want to put content back out in the world.
I want it all, and I want it over and again. There doesn’t seem to be the time to explore all that I would love to explore in the great depth that I feel it deserves. And while work takes a significant bite out of the hours of my life, it can’t really be blamed for my not doing everything. No-one can do everything anyway. Not all at once.
I will note that nowhere on my wish list would I say “I want to spend time getting stociously drunk” or “I want to eat until I feel uncomfortable”. Even though I do enjoy consuming media, it’s probably far down there on the list of things I want to do, whilst being pretty high up on the list of things I actually do do.
Maybe I should pin that list up somewhere as a reminder of what I actually want in my life, and try and get my moments to come closer to those goals.