A mighty struggle with internal encouragement

There are so many hurdles in life.  Daily, hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment.  Just pausing to rest a bit from the battles is vital to what sanity I feel like I have left.  There is the great need I have to teach.  I sometimes see it as more than a need.  A drive that is bent on destruction if I don’t do what I feel like I’m led to do.  However, the powers of the masters over my master’s seems equally determined to prevent me from doing what I most want to do.  How do I deal with that never-ending group of hurdles that I see looming out in front of me heading to the horizon?  This appears to be  so unfair to me.  Even writing that is as silly as reading it.  Life isn’t fair.  I know that.  I also know there is more than one way to skin a cat – figuratively speaking.

I suppose what truly drives me crazy in this process is the lack of encouragement on the part of the academics who could offer so much.  I am reminded of the freshman cadets of the Citadel.  Are they forced to go through hazing simply because those before them had to endure it?  I think (and this is a big “think”) it would be easier if I was 25.  Even 35.  But at the age of 57, that those in charge think I should continue to rewrite and rewrite is beyond absurd to me.  New chapters, new theories, change, eliminate, do it again.  Over and over and over.  The frustration is close to burying me.  But I’ve finally decided that a master’s from anywhere is better than enduring this longer.  I can find a school where I don’t have to go the thesis route.  It means more time, more expense, but the ability to get there is foreseeable.  Looking at this through the lens of rewriting forever is blinding and unending, so I will not do that.

If you have the opportunity to encourage someone today on their life’s path, please do so.  Please tell them that you admire their struggle to better themselves and that you get it that they are so determined to accomplish a goal.  And please remind them, as I have attempted to remind many in my life, that “no” just means you can’t do it that way.  There are many avenues to a goal.

The worst of this is questioning whether I am supposed to teach at all.  I still don’t know the answer to that.  I hope I will find out in this journey that has thrown me into such a tailspin.  I don’t believe I’m out of it yet.  But I know that I have a list of things to do to see what other pathways can get me to where I want to be.  Mostly, I don’t want to be the oldest teacher teaching.  I don’t really understand why that is such a bother to me.  It simply is.  And I accept that.  So I will pursue the other pathways, and stop wondering why those who could help have chosen to hinder.  Could be political, could be payback, could be complete disregard.  It could be any number of things.  The one thing I know is that it doesn’t have to control me.

Today, I will try not to be so sad about this.  I will attempt to rise above the issues that don’t concern me, and get on the path once again.  I will at least try.

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Teaching in South Carolina

In South Korea, teachers are known as Nation Builders.  Really.  Nation Builders.  This is a label, which offers credence and respect to a role that is often overlooked in the United States.  What can be more important than teaching our children?  We hear the rhetoric often.  But how does it balance with the way we treat teachers?

Depending on the website you visit, the salary for beginning teachers in SC is around $28,000.  This can go higher if the teacher hired has an advanced degree.  Teachers who hang around for eight or more years can climb to $43,000.  Even 56K after 15 years.  That is not a bad salary.  There are benefits as well.  According to teacherportal.com, we are 30th in the nation in beginning salaries.  Hmmm.

Is a Nation Builder supposed to take on his/her profession out of complete passion?  Without any desire for a better lifestyle?  To improve the condition of one’s car?  To be able to stand on one’s on without a necessary 2nd salary?  On the other hand, do we as a country need to recognize that we get what we pay for?  In a country that highly values celebrities and sports heroes, wouldn’t it make sense that those who are developing the minds of our children be as important – dare I say it – or as enriched as the doctors who care for their bodies?  As the people who build their schools?  As the attorneys who approve the contracts of the principals?

Okay.  Let us pretend for a moment that the above amounts are sufficient salaries for teachers.  What I cannot find in a website is the average amount that teachers spend on classroom and student supplies out of their own pockets.   Why not ask your child’s teacher.  How much did you spend this month on your students? How much do you think it is?  How many crayons, backpacks, lunches, or field trips do teachers finance because they love their students?  Or they can’t stand to see little Johnny not have sufficient paper on which to draw or do math?  Or they just feel it is right if there are apples or bananas (and occasionally candy) – or valentines, or stockings, or juice for their charges?

I know it is up to them whether they spend their money on the kids.  Sure it is.  It is also their choice to become teachers.  To get that three months off in the summer.  Which never equates to three months.  To arrive early, stay late, sponsor a club or team, eat the cafeteria food, encourage the student whose parents never show up to give attention to their children.  Never respond to emails, nor call the teacher back about the attendance of their own children.  Our teachers are supposed to be the best and the brightest, and the developers of our children’s’ minds.  They are supposed to carry the weight of making sure your child passes, or does his homework, or doesn’t cut up in class, or gets some love and attention to help him or her to grow as a student.  To be a parent often in the parent’s absence.  Do we pay them enough?   What was I thinking?