Every teacher must at some point question staying with the profession. My moment came last fall. Oddly, this was not a case of my asking whether I still enjoyed the job; I do without a doubt.
Recent changes, though, in my state and across the nation have made it more likely that I will be forced out of the profession before I wish to go. An experienced teacher, even a highly effective one, costs more money; online programs and young teachers cost less. My state, like so many others, has chosen to focus on money instead of quality in education. I began to fear that I may have to find a second career before I want to leave this one. I say fear, but really it was more of a panic. Teaching is more of a calling than a job for me, and there have been no other career paths that have interested me in the same way.
It took a while of living with the fear before it crusted over with obstinacy – and maybe just a touch of righteous anger. I began to see that there were two paths to choose from in the next phase of my life: to go or to grow. I could choose to go – to leave public education for a career at college or in the private arena. Or I could choose to grow – to develop my skills, to evaluate my techniques, and to embrace the changes that will improve education for students in the 21st century. I chose to grow. I am delving into new ideas and innovations. I am going to continue to improve what I do and to make a difference for students. I am going to continue to do what I love.