Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Passion, Risk, & Economics

by AJ

The blunt truth: Im not as passionate at my current job. After two months, things still arent clicking. No mojo. Increasingly, Im getting annoyed with this state of affairs.

Over the past few weeks, Ive attempted to diagnose the problem. Whats wrong? At TU I was a maniac.... and also at Lanier Tech. I left class with MORE energy than when I entered. I had mojo. I knew it, and my students knew it.

No, every class wasnt great... but overall I felt an effortless flow while teaching... and was in-sync with my students. I could feel myself improving every day. I could see my students gaining confidence. I fed off their interest and energy, they fed off my passion. An upward spiral.

Not so now. Why not?

My first diagnosis is risk-aversion, caused by a precarious economic situation. At the moment, Im living paycheck to paycheck. Ive relocated to an expensive city... a process that was super-stressful. Things are more stable now, but Im one missed paycheck away from homelessness. That weighs on my mind.

Despite my inherent risk-taking nature, its made me more timid. I simply cant afford to get fired right now (not that I expect to). I find myself playing it safe far too often. I worry too much about the one or two students who dont like my teaching approach. I take criticism from my boss far too seriously. I feel as though Im betraying my strengths. And so the passion fades. Its becoming just a job. Increasingly, Im finding it easier to just work through the textbook. Its a no-brainer, no-energy approach.... and although totally ineffective, the students dont complain because its what theyve done all their lives.

I have seen the dark side. I understand how teachers arrive at that path... how they sell their passion and soul for a steady paycheck and smooth sailing. Id rather change careers than do that.

And so, strangely, my number one teaching priority has nothing to do with school or the classroom. My number one priority is to save money. My goal (and my usual practice): stash away enough to cover six months of living expenses (rent, food, etc.).

With that in the bank, I need not worry about losing my job. Once that dependence is cut, worry evaporates.. I return to my strengths. My passion for learning, innovation, and risk-taking naturally reasserts itself.

I wonder if Im alone on this. Might this be the problem with many teachers? Are they naturally timid.. or has economic dependence made them so? Is that why they seem so listless? Is that why they are so terrified of challenging the bureaucrats? We dont typically think of new, young teachers as passionless. When we imagine a boring burnout.. dont we usually think of an older teacher? One who has accumulated a mortgage, credit card debts, car payments, etc. Is it really the job that crushes their courage... or is it their lifestyle?

I suspect the latter.

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