I’d like to attribute my sudden lack of energy or motivation to do anything to the homesickness I’m feeling because of the holidays. But that would just be an excuse. I’d also like to attribute it the crappy eating I’ve been doing, combined with multitude of nights going out for beers and sidra that have happened over the past couple of weeks. But that would also be an excuse.
For sure these circumstances are influencing this sudden bout of laziness that I simply can’t break out of, but it’s not the main cause.
When I first decided to come to Spain it was because I had gotten tired of the NYC rat race and my thirst for travel simply overruled anything else. Teaching as a language assistant was my means of getting to and living in Spain, and I was and still am, incredibly grateful for the program that got me here. While the circumstances of my school weren’t ideal, they presented something that I thrive off of: challenge. I was inspired by the circumstances to push myself and do the best I could for my students. I pulled from the experience I gained out of the few years I’ve had in other schools to create new lesson plans and a science curriculum, and to utilize the little knowledge I had to bring light into a dark environment.
This year, I have the fortune of working in two absolutely wonderful schools with great teachers who are also dedicated to their profession, and fantastic students. I have creative freedom in the high school, and get to sing songs and do crafts in the academy. All fantastic. No complaints on my end.
However, that sense of challenge is simply missing. Not simply missing. It’s not a simple longing. I think it’s one much more profound than something that can be fulfilled with a simple extra-curricular activity. No. What I’m talking about is regaining that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that you gain at the end of a hard day’s work, knowing that you are making a difference, and seeing proof of that difference.
It’s easy to get pulled into the auxiliar way of life…a life of 12 hour work weeks, three day weekends, and endless opportunities for travel. For me, while that’s all great and dandy for a year, my second year in I’m starting to miss growing, and by growing in this context, I’d like to stress professionally. Growth is always being done. This year I’m living on my own, getting to know a new city, etc. Sure. But I was born to teach. There are times when I feel like I don’t have enough dedication or passion for one thing, so I dabble in a multitude of things without ever being good at or committed to just one. But with education, that is not the case. I am a teacher. The love that I have for this profession runs through my very veins, it is imprinted on my DNA.
And unfortunately, this program is not allowing me to do the growth I need to become the educator I want to be. Working only 12 hours a week, rotating through 10 one-hour classes a week, a few of those every two weeks, (and starting next term every three weeks!), is just not going to get me there.
I entered this year at a complete loss as to what I wanted to do. And I now realize that it’s because, as I get pulled into a world of sheer comfort, easy jobs, and an incredible city, I’ve fallen into a comfort zone. We all know how that goes. Things are cozy, you’re snuggled up under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a book you just can’t put down. Who wants to leave that?! Why would you leave that behind to step onto the cold streets with wind, rain, etc.?! Thing is…night after night after night of that coziness, and eventually it becomes a bit…hate to say it, boring.
The time of youth is a time of challenge. It’s a time for growth. It’s a time to push beyond your limits so that you can expand what that means. It’s a time to take yourself out of your comfort zone, to gain new skills, to meet and learn from more and more people, to continue to explore the wonders that this world has to offer us, to fill in those pages not with endless scenes of couch snuggling, hot chocolate loving comfort, but with adventures and quests, knowledge and growth.
So I’ve once again (and I cannot believe how long it’s been since I’ve asked myself this question) asked myself, “What kind of educator do I want to be?”
It took me a while to answer this question, whereas a year ago, it was on the tip of my tongue, always on my mind, always within my vision. And as it comes floating back to me through the haze, I relish the words that fall off my tongue, I revel in the images that fill my mind. I see myself teaching, as a full-time, lead teacher in elementary school classrooms in different countries of the world. I see myself gaining new skills and knowledge that will culminate into my contributing something beyond valuable to the field of education , that is now, more than ever, so desperately in need of change through passionate and dedicated educators. I see myself earning my PhD, writing books, both fiction and non, as I continue to travel the world. I see myself being considered an expert in the field of elementary education, embarking on research and studies that have yet to be explored, breaking beyond the boundaries that society imposes on us, educating educators, being requested by struggling schools around the world, connecting to students and teachers alike.
This is what drives me. My vision. I lost sight of it as I got pulled into a world where everything is easy. I’d like to now, yet again, redefine my definition of balance. Just one month ago that definition meant working enough but not too much, having time to pursue hobbies and simply enjoy life and maintain a healthy social life. The latter half of the definition stays the same, but the part about work I want to change to: working in a field in which you feel satisfied at the end of the day, having contributed something and learned something new.
Now, finally, I can begin to seriously answer that question of what my next step is. While I don’t know what country I will end up in, I know that now I am ready to fully delve into my field, and that is going to be my guiding force as I explore my options and opportunities.
“People do not grow when their environment is too comfortable, when they are not challenged. It is in the midst of suffering and hardship that strength of character is formed.” ~Daisaku Ikeda