Teaching Is an Occupation, Not an Identity (A Follow-up)

Teaching Is an Occupation, Not an Identity (A Follow-up).jpg

“Connected or not, it’s still just a job.”

That was the last sentence from my earlier post about How Being a Connected Educator Killed My Career. It’s been a popular piece and definitely the most controversial post I’ve written.

I wrote it as a cautionary tale on the darker side of technology and how passion can blind our effectiveness.

I felt I needed to follow up on a few things.

Just Or Just?

First is the word just. I wrote that teaching is just a job. This was the sentence that received the most push back.

I didn’t mean just as in merely, like if you said, “Just water, please” when ordering a drink at a restaurant.

I meant just in the sense of simplicity. Like when your children or students are being obnoxious and you say, “I just want some peace and quiet.”

Teaching is simply a job. It was one aspect of my life, but it shouldn’t have been the all consuming sum total of who I am. It’s an occupation, not an identity. I let my heart get too tied up in what I was doing. I lost myself in my job because I couldn’t find balance.

I wasn’t degrading the role of teaching, but rather writing about the need for balance in the lives of teachers. Like many professions, teaching can significantly influence the lives of others. That was a heavy responsibility I never took lightly.

I’m a teacher at heart. I believe that is a God-given gift. It’s part of who I am. I’m coming to understand that is significantly different than teaching in a school classroom as my career.

The Other Side of Tech

That earlier post wasn’t meant to be a slam on technology. Technology is a tool; it is a means. It’s a tool in a similar way that a hammer is a tool. Both can be used to bludgeon or to build.

I’ve written about the two-sided nature of technology before on Clackity Noise and Scratchy Sounds. We should all be mindful about its role in our lives.

If you are a connected educator, then that’s great. My connectedness led to a further imbalance in my life. I hope you aren’t making my same mistakes.

Symptoms and Problems

Maybe I blamed a symptom instead of the real problem. Being connected wasn’t the underlying issue. It was my unbalanced life.

I had myriad reasons for resigning from teaching. My depression-fueled, anxiety-ridden emotional breakdown happened because I knew I couldn’t give as I gave before.

Being connected helped me be a better teacher in many ways too. Unfortunately, I let it get the better of me. I became fixated on the negative side of schools and education. I focused too much on the things I couldn’t control. I let teaching fill a void it was never meant to fill.

We are more than our current job, even if it is as significant as teaching a classroom full of kids.

If you are called to teach, then teach. Teach with all of your heart. I’m just (simply) pleading with you to do it with balance and discernment. Don’t let passion get in the way of your job.


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