Sunday, February 27, 2011

Guilt

This whole teachers vs. Scott Walker has put me in the middle of both friends and colleagues alike.  My friends, family and co-workers all have an opinion and many seem to assume they know mine.  There was quite a lengthy discussion at our niece's 2nd birthday party yesterday - mind you J was a teacher, one of his sisters is a teacher, his dad was a principal and his mom was a teacher turned educational assistant.  And you throw me into the mix.  On the other side of the debate is J's uncle who is an independent contractor for the federal courthouse.  I think that debate got the guilt juices flowing.


On our drive home, I think I needed to cleanse my soul.  Not about the teachers in Madison, but about the fact that I am teaching in a private school.  This was never in my plans.  And, if I was to be honest with myself, I was probably a bit condescending, in my mind, towards private school teachers.  And here I find myself - one of them. 


I have never mentioned this guilt to anyone and here it was the topic of discussion for at least 45 minutes of our drive and continued to weigh on my mind throughout the night - to the point where I was dreaming about it.  I feel so horribly guilty.  I feel as though I have abandoned my kids.  My kids now, at a private school, do indeed need me, but not like in the past.  They need my input on which private college would best serve them in the quest to be the most influential social worker of their time.  They need me to take a look at their papers and check citations before they submit it for AP Lit.  They do need me.  But in the past, for some of my kids, school was the only sense of stability the kids had.  You don't know how many trips I took to Wal-mart or Target over the years for school supplies, clothes, food, etc for my kids at work.  How many long hours spent agonizing over what was best for these guys, when no one else really even thought twice. I know most of them have graduated or are about to graduate.  And many of my 'babies' know how to get a hold of me and have done so.  But what about the next classes coming up?  What if they need me and I am not there?  Have I failed my mission?  Have I become a sell-out and taken the easy route?


So, I return to my final exam grading.  With my helicopter parents, who question every grade in my grade book - why it was a A- rather than an A, and think about the kids I have left behind.  The kids who could not get their parents in for conferences, much less check my grade book on a daily basis. I watch the happenings at the capital, with baited breath, look at the pictures posted by my friends and co-workers and wonder.  I am only two terms into my stint as a private school teacher.  J assures me that I am making a difference and that these kids need strong teachers as well.  I am hoping that my guilt subsides.  Some days it feels as though it will just consume me.
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