Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And all of the above is often not as easy as it sounds.
So I have come to a somewhat painful conclusion to something in my life over the past few days. I am giving up on my career of being a teacher...at least in the "Normal" sense of the word. This was not an easy decision, nor am I totally closing the door. However, I am done with working in a public school.
I have been working in one way or the other with kids with special needs, who are "At-Risk" and so on for over 10 years now. This year and last, I have been working with "Extreme Risk" kids and their families. To be blunt, I am exhausted and I no longer wish to see what I see any more.
Let me make a LONG story short...
This was the second day in a row where I woke up from having nightmares about my school. That is not the best thing to experience.
During this time I have been working two jobs. At my main job a friend of mine told me earlier this week that she had been telling people that she hoped I did not take the full-time offer that the school was handing me. She told me that she had seen how much it was affecting me...and not in a good way. Later that night, I told that story to another co-worker. I asked her if she had seen a negative affect on me. Her answer? "Oh Yeah!" (Again, not a good sign.)
Here is the problem. I was offered a full-time position for next year at this school. While that was nice, the golden cherry on the cake was a waiver for my license. (In Minnesota you have to take classes to renew your license every 5 years. We are incredibly anal about that.) This would have given me time to get take those same classes and keep current. Without this waver my license is over at the end of June...and as a result, so is my chance to teach in any public school in this State. (Hey, there is always North Dakota.)
Well, I did some checking into all sorts of options. The problem is complicated, but in the end a large chunk of everything comes down to money. As weird as it is, I would end up making less money with a full-time school position, and have no union support, minimal insurance, and no guarantee of employment after the school year was over. So...
But the final straw was what I had to see everyday I went to this school. I believe in what they are trying to do. However, I have never seen a place that has such minimal support for what they have to deal with. There are no mental health services. No hall monitors. No immediate consequences for bad behavior. The teachers and staff are stretched unbelievably thin.
I should also mention that there is no air conditioning in this building, and the district has asked us not to bring the kids outside to play because this time of year the neighborhood is too dangerous. AWESOME!!!
All of this to work with a group of students who are the most difficult in the city.
All of us have been threatened by parents. Yesterday, a 6th grade girl wanted to beat up a female teacher. I get to see the results of incredibly stupid parents on a daily basis...if parents are involved at all. Everyday, everyday, everyday, I get to see a large mass kids who are so broken and messed up that the odds of them making it out of the hole that they are in is pretty remote. (And I am being very gentle in my choices of words here.)
It is heartbreakingly frustrating and depressing. On a daily basis I get to see kids who are offered help over and over again, but refuse it. They have been so damaged by their families and the surrounding environment that they know no other way to act other than what the streets, their completely dysfunctional families, and some misogynistic rapper with a death-wish have taught them. Far too often it is simply like watching a slow motion suicide. And it takes it's toll on the viewer.
I don't want to see this anymore.
I should mention that there are many, many bright spots. I have three 6th grade boys that have college and beyond written all over them. There are a couple of female students that I have no worries about, too. But the rest...
I dunno. Maybe this makes me a bad person. I just can't handle seeing this stuff every day. I'm fried. I have one day off a week...and I seem to spend all of it working on the other stuff that I can't get to during the other days. Heck, I can barely find the time to write on this blog or other stuff. That really bothers me, because it is what makes me feel very alive and helps me process. My friends & family have all noticed what a toll this has taken on me. I would like to be a stronger man, but maybe that is simply false pride. I'm just beat.
I would like to say that I can easily turn all of this over to God. I would like to simply lay it all at the feet of Jesus. But the fact is that I can't get most of this stuff out of my head. Maybe what I need is to simply collapse at the feet of Jesus in a big, sweaty, quivering mess.
The bright side is that it is a door that is closed. Sometimes those closed doors are more important than the open ones. I still would like to work in some type of education. I love the intellectual give & take. It feeds me. (Unfortunately, I am not fed at that school. Instead, I feel like an captive donor to a swamp of mosquitos.)
These are the times when you have a lot of questions, but really no good answers. You just have to sit and wait for God to do what ever it is that he does. That makes me uncomfortable, but I still have a long way to go when it comes to learning patience. I do believe that God is at work in all of this. I just don't know what he is doing or what he has up his sleeve.
Frustrating, to say the least.
In the mean time, I am just tired and burned out...very, very burned out.
"It's better to burn out than to fade away."
Anyone have any good ideas?