Yesterday, my friend and I went out to lunch after her presentation. She had her writing group in the afternoon, so we shot over to the strip mall right across from the university. Whether the pun was intentional or not, we couldn't resist the place called Tong Thai, and contrary to the name of the restaurant, we chattered away as we waited for our green curry chicken and pad prik goong. We caught up personally and with what was going on in our schools and the county, and the conversation inevitably turned to the writing project and finally to our thoughts on the future of our careers. "How long have you been teaching, again?" she asked.
"This year coming will be number seventeen," I replied.
"All in the same place and at the same grade?" She knew the answer, but she needed to hear it. "Don't you ever want a change?"
"Not really," I responded, and our conversation touched lightly on how different we were in that respect, but then it was time for her to go.
When I thought about it later, though, I conjectured that it was not so much a matter of temperament as it was approach to teaching. Sometimes it seems that the Holy Grail of teaching is to find something that works and to stick with it. We plan and teach and assess and reflect and tweak all in pursuit of ... what? That magic year that everything will go exactly as we planned, so that we'll never have to plan again?
That attitude, in my opinion, is the recipe for either burn out, or worse, fading away. Even if you find the perfect formula, who wants to do the exact same things over and over, year after year, whether or not they "work?" This thinking reduces us to assembly line workers, and in such a situation, who wouldn't want a change?
Fortunately, in my experience, no year has ever been the same as the one that preceded it. Maybe it's by hook or by crook, by chance or design, but I'll post my explanation of this lucky happenstance tomorrow.