How long do I stay patient? It’s year nine of a second career. Not sure.
Patience is tough business. I get it. There’s this fine line between practicing patience and being passive in the value of our own future. So, let me push on this some: what are you waiting for?
Are you waiting for it to get better? Are you waiting for teaching to feel like it looks in the movies? Are you waiting to know you’re making a difference? Are you waiting for happiness or fulfillment? Are you waiting to feel the way you hoped you would when you changed careers?
I know this much: patience without a clear purpose or goal is nothing short of purgatory and the suffering that comes with it. So, I think that’s the first step in reconciling your own question: decide what you’re really waiting for and then be willing to re-frame your approach. Instead of wondering “how much longer should I wait”, ask yourself, “am I willing to do the work to make the change?” We can wish things were different, but wishing doesn’t make change happen, work does.
See, there is a space between the ideal classroom we imagine and the reality of what walks through our door each day. Yet, that’s where teachers live. We live in the nooks and crannies of imperfection because that’s where learning hides.
Whether you’re in year nine of a second career, or in the second week of a nine-month school year, the work of teaching is built on tensions of tough questions: Did I connect with my students today? Do they know I care? Did they learn today? If so, how can I make sure we build on it tomorrow? If not, what do I have to own and do differently tomorrow? Is there a real purpose for what we’re doing in school? If so, can the students voice it? If not, what experience do I need to create for them?
Last week I gave the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral. When my family went through the several boxes of things she’d kept in these last couple of years at the nursing home, we found photos. Albums of them, framed ones, loose ones. It wasn’t things, it was people. The culmination of a life, of a career, of a classroom comes down to people and the ones right in front of you hold your answer, either way.
Whether it’s this classroom or another, this career or something different, just do this one thing for me, please. Get impatient. Get impatient about your truth.