Job satisfaction, life satisfaction

Alright, so this week has not lived up to last week in its revelatory nature, but it has been a good week.  Not perfect, or over-the-top amazing, but good.  I guess that few weeks in life really are perfect or over-the-top amazing, so good is satisfying enough.

When I left my old job, I left in search of job satisfaction.  I was determined that there had to be a job out there that I could feel good about on a consistent basis.  A job where I would not while away the hours feeling frustrated, bored, slave-like, and stressed simultaneously.  For awhile, I even lost faith that such a job existed, at least within my grasp.  This is why making the leap to teaching was such a gigantic leap of faith for me.  I was willing to give up money and prestige for the fantasy of job satisfaction, but I was uncertain that job satisfaction was truly possible.

Fast forward one year four months, and, at least this week, I feel satisfied.  Teaching, though full of its own stresses, moments of failure, long long hours, and public scrutiny, is also immensely satisfying when it goes well.  Breakthroughs with challenging students, sparks of love for learning, and being able to share myself as inspiration to kids that really need it, feels good.  Really good.  My students are smiling more, I am smiling more.  Thursday I actually came home from work with a big smile on my face and that sense of job satisfaction that had seemed so illusive.

Yes, I still feel stressed, and yes, I come home more tired than I ever have from any job, but I also feel passionate for the first time ever about what I do.  This morning, I woke up to read a teaching book of my own volition.  No one is making me read it.  I want to read it.  I am deriving pleasure from reading it.  It is called The Book Whisperer, written by Donnalyn Miller, a teacher that requires her sixth graders, regardless of reading ability, to read forty substantial books of their choosing each year.  I expected to find a book about reading less-than engaging, but instead it has reminded me of my own deep love for reading and ignited my desire to inspire that same love in my students.  It is stuff like this which makes me love teaching.

A recommended read for all teachers!

Even this week, teaching has been a mixture of emotions, sliding back and forth on the job satisfaction scale.  I began the week being observed by teachers from a neighboring school during a few of my less-fine moments, leaving me feeling shitty about my teaching, (for lack of a better adjective).  It is such a strange part of teaching that what works one day may not work for the same students the next.  It also seems to be a common trend that the moments I am the most proud of, the moments I wish the whole world was watching, are also the moments that my revolving door of observers are not present.

I ended the week feeling like I still have so much room to grow but also like what I’m doing is working, a little bit at a time.  The students are beginning to do the right thing on their own, quieting down more quickly as I also grow in my own patience.  I can also feel their engagement and love for learning grow, even if it is still just an emergent sprout in need of a lot of encouragement.  I expect that there will be a thousand more highs and lows, including what seems to be the weekly moment where I ask myself how long I will last as a teacher.  However, a deep, underlying sense of job satisfaction is beginning to emerge that is spilling over into my greater sense of life satisfaction.  I have heard it said that teaching is more than a job, that it is a lifestyle choice.  I am beginning to feel what this means.  Today, at least, it is a satisfying choice.

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