I love teaching. I mean, I really love it. It is a deep part of who I am, even when I don’t recognize it. And I have always been a teacher, even when I was a director, a waitress, a lifeguard and a stockbroker. Even when I was tutoring and practicing yoga and finding my way through decades of important relationships, I was a teacher. When I was floundering around in my twenties, ostensibly with no direction, I think I still knew I would be a teacher. It’s just one of those things in my bones.
But I am not good at this. I am not capable of performing in the daily theater required to capture even a moment of their attention. I am not good at giving assignments just to “hold them accountable” or assessments to prove that they are doing what I am telling them to do. I am not good at this.
I am not good at details until I know the big picture and I can’t seem to figure out the big picture until I know the details. I usually know what I want it (whatever the “it” may be) to look like in the end. How it should feel when I read their words. How a young writer’s face looks when he has gotten the words just right. What writers writing sounds like. What readers reading sounds like (because the silence is never silent). I know in my heart & soul when it is working. I know when, just for a moment, everything seems to have found its equilibrium. It is all in balance, for the briefest of moments, and I know that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.
But now that is gone. All of it. My box of tricks is empty. My pictures are fuzzy and out of focus. My passion for poetry does not filter through the blue mask and the moments of beautiful clarity are nowhere to be seen. I don’t recognize my classroom. It feels impossible to make them believe that their words matter, truly matter, because they have been silenced for so long. I am as anonymous to them as they are to me, just eyes questioning and waiting for connection.
I still love teaching, but I am not a teacher anymore.