Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why I'm Quitting Teaching

After nine years in a classroom, I'm leaving education. 

I will walk out of my empty room on Tuesday with books packed away and memories stored in my heart, leaving behind hundreds of adolescents who walked through the door looking for what they didn't know they needed.

Honestly, I don't know if I gave them anything.

I tried really hard, that's for sure. I wrote curriculum and read professional books and took classes to get better.

I read adolescent novels and included the classics and tried to teach them some grammar.

But as far as what they got? Who really knows. That's the agonizing peculiarity of education. You never really know how you did, even with test scores and data being thrown all around. You never really know if you made an impact that will be remembered beyond the last day of school. You never really know.

I sure don't.

If you're looking for a diatribe against the American education system, you won't find it here. I have a lot of thoughts on our system and a lot I think needs to be changed, but I'll keep those thoughts inside until the time is right to voice them.

Here's what I do know: I can't stay.

Not because I hate teaching or because I believe the system is irreparably broken. Not because I'm tired of the kids or frustrated with changing standards.

No, I'm leaving because God has made it clear it's time for me to do something else. I've tried to help my students uncover their passions, and I've encouraged them to follow their hearts. I guess I'm finally taking my own advice.

I'm going to be a writer.

It sounds so foreign to my ear to say it out loud, like I might as well be saying I'm joining the circus to become a clown. But I am going to write, so that makes me a writer, I guess.

The Lord awoke a desire in me about four years ago to share His heart and redemptive power through my words, and every day since then has pushed me to this place, the place where I confirm my belief in His call and my belief in His provision.

There's a lot I don't know yet, like how exactly to be a writer. (A minor detail, I'm sure). I'm just going to write what He reveals, and I'll share how I can. I don't know how to operate without a bell schedule releasing me to use the bathroom, and I don't know how to stop pinning lesson plan ideas while I'm scrolling through Pinterest.

I don't know, but I'll learn. I'm moving from being the experienced teacher to a novice student again, but I've never been more excited (and thoroughly terrified). A part of me I didn't know was sleeping has now been awakened, and it's as if I'm seeing everything through new eyes. I've come to a place where I can't not do what He has clearly called and confirmed. I feel, like Esther, I was made for such a time as this. It's now or never. Trust and obey. Look and still leap.

Some people have said to me, "I admire your courage!" Truthfully, I'm not feeling particularly courageous most days. Often I feel selfish and confused and overwhelmed and simply amazed that God would even ask me to do anything for Him.

But He did, so I am. And I'm encouraging you to do the same.

For those of you protecting a dream in your heart that you're afraid will never be a reality... 

Keep dreaming. 

Keep praying. 

Keep practicing

It may take years, but if you beg God to take the desire away and it only comes through stronger, you'll know. You'll know He heard you, and you'll know that eventually, in His time, He will set everything in motion. He did for me, and I'm trusting He will continue.

So for now, I ask for your prayers. Pretty soon, I'll be asking for your stories! I long to give you words you need to hear, and there would be no higher honor than for me to write about what you need. Words have power and stories give life, and the new focus of my days is to share power-imparting and life-giving stories with you. I think the teacher in me will always be around, sharing where I've been and what I know with those who need it. I pray my words will, somehow, give you something you need.