I was a guest teacher today. That's the district's nice term for sub. I was a floater. I started in one classroom while a team had meetings, and then in the afternoon did the same thing for another teacher. Morning went seamlessly. SEAMLESSLY.
Afternoon was harder. I'll leave it at that. Partly because of the kids, partly because the teacher had left little for me to do (I think I was too efficient?). And partly because I'm back in the saddle after 11 years.
But after I was done and headed for the car and sat down, I remembered things, like the fact that NPR existed. And Facebook. And, you know, stop signs and cell phones and I had a family and three kids and so forth.
Teaching blows you away. I'd forgotten that. I'd forgotten how much of your self is lost in the day. There's a facade you must maintain, but it's more than that.
I thought about the post I wrote earlier this month about how my house tends to be a mess but my classrooms were always pristine. I think it's because the person who teaches in a classroom isn't really all me. I mean, it is me, and I'm there and I'm not suggesting that I'm crazy. It's just that there is absolutely no time for free thought. Every moment is on the job. This is not true when you cut fabric or work a check out line. This is obviously not true in the jobs I see my friends and relatives hold, ones where they speak to other adults all day and answer the phone and so forth. Maybe this is true in health care, like an ER, although to hear my dad tell it, ER and other emergency work has long periods of down time--with other adults.
Subbing is hard, and I'm not subbing in an easy district, on purpose because I'm a bit of a contrarian and also because I have family ties to the district. I know that classroom work is not as hard as what I am doing. But I also know that my mind worked the same way when I had my own classroom.
I came home and found a New Zealand educator, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, and a quote that summed it up. I in fact had already used that word in my head and on Facebook: obliterated.
No other job in the world could possibly dispossess one so completely as this job of teaching. You could stand all day in a laundry, for instance, still in possession of your mind. But this teaching utterly obliterates you. It cuts right into your being: essentially, it takes over your spirit. It drags it out from where it would hide.
And you know what? I kind of love it. I need to figure out how to regain possession of my mind and spirit before I walk in the front door of my house, but otherwise, I am happy being dispossessed on occasion.