Yes, that really happened.
The day after I had quit my teaching job, I thought about my lack of savings and the fact that I would have no money in a few months and—asked for my job back. My principal was gracious to receive me, but told me that unfortunately, another teacher had taken my third grade position. But I could teach fourth grade. This meant, essentially, that I would have to start over again. New curriculum, new lesson plans, and a new grade with 30+ students, as opposed to 20 students in my third grade class.
I accepted her offer but was dejected.
It was another rough year. My classroom management had improved but the discipline problems were worse than the year before. I had one particularly challenging student who was aggressive, mean and “not afraid of the principal”. Her mom did not want to hear about any behavior problems because “that is your job”. I had another student who refused to follow directions that she did not like. She declared, “my parents told me I don’t have to listen to you because you’re a bad teacher.” Her parents did not want to speak with me either. I had volunteered to take several of the “tough case” boys that others did not want because I knew they were good kids. I loved them, but they required much effort. Each day was a struggle.
No longer able to maintain the long hours and intensity of “saving the world” (see my last entry), I started burning out. I had gotten so thin that the school nurse took me aside and asked in a low voice if I were anorexic. I was not, but my health was failing for lack of self-care. In addition to this, I had to deal with political backlash from another teacher (the one who took my third grade class) for choosing not to join the strike for higher pay.
Internally, I was scrambling for my next steps. I knew I had to quit, but didn’t know what to do next. I was so desperate that I flew to Colorado (on my meager teacher salary) and spent a couple of days with a career coach highly recommended by a friend. The coach concluded I had so many strengths that it would be difficult for me to choose a profession. There was no clear path to take. He then advised me to conduct informational interviews with people doing jobs that sounded interesting until I found what I wanted to do. Somewhat hopeful, I began calling friends, friends of friends, alumni contacts, even random people I had come across who had interesting job titles, asking them questions about their jobs. I did this for a few weeks, but it was not helpful. I made no discoveries.
So I went back to what I knew. I was good at academics, so applied for graduate school.