Today's prompt asks that I reflect upon one of the greatest accomplishments of my teaching career that no one may know (or care) about.
The biggest accomplishment of my teaching career is that I have not let fear or convention keep me tethered to one place. After my first five years of teaching, my inner voice was clamoring for me to take some time away from the classroom and spend it doing things that I had been neglecting in my personal life. After waking up to the discovery that my daughter had transformed from a first grader into a middle school student (almost without my noticing), I knew that I needed to redirect my attentions for a while. The decision to take time away was one of the most difficult decisions of my life, one that many people viewed with confusion. What on earth could possess a person to leave a secure position teaching high school social studies and humanities, at a great school like Colchester High School? While leaving the comfort of the known could be viewed as a risk, taking the time to spend with my family and on other areas of interest helped me become a stronger, happier person, and a more skilled practitioner.
It was by taking time away from full-time responsibilities as a classroom teacher that I came to realize how important it is to live an undivided life. It helped me recognize that my habit of overworking and constantly putting work before every other aspect of my life was not benefiting anyone. It gave me the time and reflective space to take history and technology courses for the sheer joy of learning, and it allowed me to rethink the ways that I might approach a full time position should the opportunity again present itself. It allowed me the time and mental space to re-imagine my goals, set priorities, and design instructional experiences for myself, as well as my students. It gave me the space to think about things differently and more creatively.
Since making that decision, I have come to the conclusion that teaching plays a huge role in my identity and remains a vital part of what gives my life meaning, even if I do remain a free agent of sorts.
Although I was sad that I wasn't part of the whole "going back to school" routine this fall, since I didn't have a new position lined up, I have been grateful for opportunities to teach a variety of different courses and students in a variety of settings. I am grateful that I've had the gift of time to dive deeply into professional development, tinker with my hobbies, and dote on my loved ones.