Friday, November 21, 2008

Adios, Mr. O (At Least For Now)

I spent a ridiculously long time trying to compose this post. I crafted lengthy post-mortems and detailed analyses. But I think I'll keep it simple.*

I'm not teaching anymore.

I expected teaching to be really really hard, but I also expected it to go well. It didn't. I could list a thousand reasons: I was grossly undertrained, the kids were wild, I was too nice... But as time passed, it became clear: it just wasn't working.

And so, I find myself back in the civilian world** battered, bruised, and exhausted. I'm deeply disappointed—I had great hopes. And I confess, I'm also relieved. Teaching is extremely hard even when it's going well. When it's going badly, it's miserable.

My brief time in the schools has left an indelible impression. I already miss those crazy kids, even if they ran me ragged. And I may return to teaching. I don't know. (I'm postponing any long-term career decisions until after the PTSD tremors subside.) I regret that it didn't work out, but I don't regret trying.

Life is a funny business. At least I'll have more time for blogging.

* Perhaps I'll wax analytical at a later date.

** My interim post-Mister-O incarnation: part-time computer geek (it's a sad statement about our national priorities that part-time geekery pays the same as way-more-than-full-time fingers-to-the-bone teachery), part-time Mr. Mom (during the brutal hours of trying to teach other people's kids, I didn't see nearly enough of my own), and part-time head-scratcher, trying to figure out what's next after this unforeseen turn of events (and of course, part-time dilettante aesthete, gleefully plunging back into all of my woefully neglected hobbies).


  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    You are still my hero, Mr. O. It took guts to try it and guts to back out, too!

  2. ((((((hugs))))))

    It is one difficult job, teaching. You gave it a good shot. Be well.

  3. You have a good attitude! It's always good to know when to walk away from something. Teaching is such a thankless job, most of the time. One of my coworkers my first year said, "it's the toughest job you'll ever love," and I thought, privately, "I don't know- I think it's just the toughest job!" It sounds like you gave it your best!

  4. I'm sorry it didn't work out. I'm glad you have a good alternative.

  5. Anonymous7:51 PM

    We're in awe of you for even trying. Wow. As Fud would say, Keep your chin up.

  6. Anonymous8:06 PM

    I'm sure it was a tough decision to leave but nevertheless very wise to get out sooner than later. Life is too short! These things are all part of the exploration. (This will be an incredible lesson for your girls one day - taking risks even if in the end it doesn't work out as you plan.)

    Personally I'm excited to see more drawings.

  7. Anonymous7:42 AM

    You gave it your best shot. You knew when to leave. I could never have done it. More selfishly, I missed your posts, word games, questions for your readers and Joe.

  8. Anonymous3:53 PM

    As someone said "you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them" There will be good things ahead for you.

  9. Yep, teaching is a tough road.
    I agree with others above, having the self awareness to feel a situation is truly bad, then pushing away from the table. That's important.

    Carry on.
    Draw on.
    Accordion on.

  10. Teaching is a calling, not a job. I don't know how else to explain it but the very best teachers are a bit like priests in the worst parts of the country, or in war-torn areas. They know all the problems and obstacles, yet they stay with it.

    Don't worry! You tried it, and it didn't work out. It wasn't your thing.

  11. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. With respect, Kanani, Mr. O hasn’t revealed enough in this entry to say that his reasons for leaving were due to an issue of teaching not being a calling for him.

    Indeed, I’d say anyone who stepped away from a well-paying and well-defined career with a desire to serve the children in the historically under-performing schools of his beloved city, - I’d say that most certainly speaks of a moral obligation and calling.

    There are also those that see the problems and obstacles in certain situations as being too whopping in order to fulfill the calling, and therefore, find a better channel in which this calling can be fulfilled.

    It actually sounds, Mr. O, like you may have worked harder at this job than any other in your life. Sheeeit. So sorry there.

    In my estimate, I can only guess that it was an issue of the struggles outweighing the victories - to which (despite your decidedly upbeat panorama on this here blog) it would be of interest to hear the analytical wax.

  12. There's truth on both sides. I certainly felt called when I chose this path, but now, on the flipside, I wonder if I heard the call correctly.

    I'll try to provide the analytic wax in the not-too-distant future.

  13. I've seen some of my best and strongest friends crumbled into dust in their first year of teaching. Some continued on, most did not.

    From the outside, it looks like learning to be a medic in a war zone. And that's in the suburban schools. In an urban setting (at least in Detroit) it's....beyond description. I suspect it's similar in New Orleans.

    Best of luck.