Learning, apprenticeship, study.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s time to make things Internet-official. I’m stepping out of the classroom next year and taking a leave of absence. I’m excited beyond expression, but I’m also scared. Scared that maybe I’ll never come back or that I’ll realize I was doing things wrong the whole time. Scared that I’ll be away from inspiring educators and remarkable kids who keep me going. Scared that I won’t take full advantage of this opportunity.

Who am I when I’m not a teacher? Am I really going to stop being a teacher when I’m out of the classroom? How can I best improve myself and equip myself to return to a vocation of teaching and learning?

I’m fortunate that the district approved my leave (after sending me a very official piece of certified mail that looked SO SERIOUS that Toby texted me asking if I was in trouble). I’m fortunate for the Internet so that I won’t be isolated in this year away. I’m fortunate for the support of remarkable friends who help me become a better person. I’m fortunate for administrators who advocate for the best interests of my students and for the mental health of educators.

Although I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with depression and mania, mental health isn’t the core of why I’m leaving, although I think it does explain why I feel so thoroughly drained and ready for reflection. Teachers leave the profession because they’re burnt out. I hope I’ve caught myself before going over the burnout cliff, and that I will return to my classroom a more thoughtful and proficient educator.

This week is spring break. I’m working with Toby to craft some sort of framework or schedule so I don’t just sink into a fog of ennui in my bed and never emerge. As first-world-problem as it seems, breaks and vacations are really difficult for me, and it often takes a few weeks into the summer before I stop feeling like my skin is crawling. Routines and schedules help my students, and they help me too. One of my tasks is to write something every day. So here’s my work for today.

Learning, apprenticeship, and study. Those are today’s intentions.

3 thoughts on “Learning, apprenticeship, study.”

  1. I am going to miss you as a colleague, but I am going to celebrate that you will remain a friend, no matter what our futures hold.

  2. Shannon,
    As an adult, you’ve usually known what is best for you. I hope, in any way possible, your mental health improves. I’m glad Toby is there for you. I wish you only the best now and always. I hope your leave of absence fulfills your personal and professional desires. Take care, and as always,
    Love,
    Mom

  3. I am so in the same boat. Moving schools has not helped. I don’t want to burn out either, but when one cares so much for this work, it’s hard to not feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and, at times, hopeless.
    You are someone who inspires me so much. I wish I could be the educator that you are. I’m proud of you for taking this scary step, because you are putting your life, your health, your needs before your work. You know that I can understand this so well.
    Please keep in touch, and know that are an amazing person and I feel privileged to know you and to have worked with you. Love you!

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