Simple answer: Yes, I’m good at what I do.
Long answer: I haven’t always thought that I was good at what I do. My first year teaching was loaded with tears. I’d come home nightly sobbing because I felt so horribly inadequate at it. Through the next couple years my skin toughened, and I stopped crying about work (most of the time), but would I say that I loved it and felt good at it at any point? Looking back, I can’t say that I ever really felt that way.
When I stopped coming home crying, I also stopped caring a little bit. I actually stopped caring a lot. I hardened up and I checked right out. I was teaching Grade 4-8 French, and it might be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I thought I was pretty good at it, but I had many kids who didn’t care regardless, and I couldn’t decide whether it was my teaching or the subject material.
This past spring I went to my principal and begged for an open primary prep (Kindergarten gym and library, grade 1 and 2 science and social studies and some music and dance) position. Thankfully, he granted my plea, and I transitioned to a brand new world — little kids. Trust me, having gone to school to teach Grade 7-12 French, Grade 1 Science has been this whole new world that I just did not see coming.
On the first day of school this September, to say I was terrified would be a complete understatement. I had to spend ALL day with little little kids? How would this go?
Well, by the end of the first day, when I left smiling and laughing at the ridiculous things they say and how they see life, I knew this could be good. By the end of the first week when, despite it being September, I didn’t go home exhausted and wishing for June, I knew it could be really good.
And now, by the end of November, when I still laugh heartily at all the ridiculous and adorable things they say and do, and I’ve had Grade 1 kids correctly use words like reproduce when talking about characteristics of living things (they’re learning!! and they love it!), I finally feel like I’m good at what I do. This is year 6, and it turns out all it took was to get out of French.
Now, this is not to say that French can not be taught well. I’ve seen many who do it well. It turns out that, even though this is what I went to school for, it’s not where I belonged. Those of you who stick with it your entire careers have more respect from me than you can ever imagine. I’m not good at it, and I fooled myself for five years into thinking that it was going to get infinitely better. You know what though, sometimes it doesn’t, and I think that’s when it’s time for a change. I had friends who recommended that maybe teaching itself wasn’t for me. I promised them and myself that if a switch of positions this year didn’t help, I would look for other options.
Thankfully, a switch was just what the doctor ordered, and I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. I LOVE MY JOB! I look forward to going to work. I don’t cry on Sunday nights and at the end of breaks like long weekends, March Break, and especially summer. The entire month of August used to be filled with dread.
Before I talk about what I’d like to be better at, can I strongly encourage that if you’re reading my account of what I was doing and how I was feeling, and you’re thinking ‘that’s how I feel about MY job!’ …. can you promise yourself that you’ll take steps to make it better, in any way you can? And if that doesn’t help, can you promise yourself that you’ll evaluate whether it’s the right choice for you? I hate seeing people miserable just because they hate their jobs. I know that sometimes it’s the only available option, but barring that…. well, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter.
What do I wish I were better at?
Cooking. I’m not awful at it. I can cook when I put my mind to it. Things don’t burn, I cook them for the appropriate amount of time… all that jazz… you know…. people even rave about my pulled pork.
But I loathe it. I hate cooking for myself when it’s just me, and I’d so much rather just get Subway, or Wendy’s, or pizza, or Pita Pit, or Chinese… or… anything, really. I guess I don’t wish I was better at it as much as I wish I enjoyed doing it so that I would.
Any tips? What do you do to keep cooking interesting and make sure you enjoy it? Do you cook for one or many?
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