Monday, May 11, 2009

Shoes and Dreams and -- career changes?

I heard bad news from a teacher friend recently; she's discouraged and depressed with her field of work and looking to make a new career start. I don't know where she's going, but it'll be a great loss to her coworkers and students.

She turned up in my dreams last night, and I must email her about it. I don't remember the entire dream (I should have written it down right away!), but I remember her convincing me to buy sturdy but fashionable boots with a small heel rather than white patent leather ballet flats. As we packed up to travel (where were we going? I don't think I knew), she reminded me to leave a stack of old wicker baskets and other bulky excess baggage behind.

I see meaning in this already. Like my friend, I've experienced a very discouraging year of teaching. Lack of administrative support, poor or non-existent communication, failure to respect the classroom teacher's workload, and more, have led to an outrageous level of emotional wear and tear. It's the kind of year that leads teachers to joke about installing a Prozac Salt Lick in the lounge. Beneath the joke, however, is the reality that our work is challenging, demanding, and often depressing.

The shoes - why were we shoe shopping together? Is there meaning in that, too? I was admiring a tiny, shiny pair of white patent leather flats that looked great on my feet when I heard her voice reminding me that this wasn't what I was shopping for. Dressy and impractical shoes wouldn't carry me where I was going. The boots, however, were attractive, sturdy leather, and strong. They would support my feet and ankles walking on an airport concourse or riding a motorcycle. These classy boots were a worthwhile investment in fashion and in my own health.

The baskets were used, in excellent shape, but of limited use. I could see myself in this scene easily. I'm a scavenger, spending pennies on second-hand items or picking up freebies and donations for use in my classroom. Maybe this scene has less to do with eliminating excess emotional baggage in my career and more to do with focus on the economic situation. It's possible that the message is actually this: beware of being pennywise and pound foolish.

In any case, I'm sad to hear she's leaving the field of education. She's brilliant, caring, and practical. When we worked together, our strengths complimented each others for the benefit of the students we served. Those children grew emotionally and academically in our care. We knew it, and we felt good about it. Now we're both experiencing the perfect storm of budget cuts, rising expectations, and poor public relations. Doing even more with even less is reaching an impossible level.

She's leaving teaching. Maybe I should take her shoe shopping before she goes...

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Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Aw, that is a major loss.

5/11/2009 10:54 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

It's interesting to see you dissect your own dream. Good job. :)

I'm so sorry to hear a friend is leaving, especially in your line of work. Losing good teachers is always heartbreaking.

5/11/2009 2:56 PM  
Blogger Earth Muffin said...

That is sad, but unfortunately more common lately. I hope she finds what she's looking for outside of the profession.

And it sounds like you need to get yourself a new pair of funky boots!

5/11/2009 8:13 PM  
Blogger Angelina said...

It really sucks for parents when good teachers quit. I think teaching has got to be one of the hardest jobs there is and one of the most important. Of course, hearing someone say it doesn't ameliorate all the problems like poor administrative support and dealing with parents!

5/12/2009 10:15 AM  

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