In the last week I have found that I am able to say to people that I lost my job, and not feel the tears coming. Even a month ago this was not the case.
It has been a year.
I don't think I will ever completely forgive what happened, because so much of what happened was morally wrong. I should not have been asked to do the things I was asked to do. I should not have been fired for maintaining my integrity.
This is a big part of why every day I feel the loosening of my grip around the idea of myself as a classroom teacher.
I have held onto this idea for a long, long time.
I held onto it by working in a daycare for two years, and by going back there when I lost my job. At least there I could say I was doing important work. That it made a difference that I was there.
I looked at it as working on my behavior-management skills. As a break before I got back to my real work. As a chance to be creative and not have to worry about people breathing down my neck.
I got to make and do a lot of things, work with some really sweet kids, and have a lot of fun.
But when I eventually decided to go back to being a classroom teacher, it all happened so fast. I applied, was interviewed, was swept up into the job. That first year I even got an award.
And so when I began to push back, I felt like I was sending a message: This is what good teachers do. Good teachers hold students accountable. Good teachers expect to be paid fairly for their time. Good teachers know their job responsibilities and don't have to worry about those responsibilities changing every month.
Because people are fond of creating either/or situations, we were told again and again that caring about ourselves meant not caring about children. As if there were a limit to how much a person could care, or how many people a person could care about.
So I find myself again not knowing what I want to be when I grow up. With less certainty than I had. But also with a lot fewer boulders to push up hills.