I had wondered if I would feel any sadness about teaching my last class, any tinge of regret.
Fortunately, my last class was my best one this semester, my Community Involvement class. I have some terrific students in that class and everything went well, but my feeling at the end of the day was pure relief. I’ve gotten through my last semester, did a decent (if sometimes uninspired) job and ended on a good note.
If I had stayed on any longer, there’s a chance that my last class might not have gone so well. If I stayed a year or two, I might have started screaming uncontrollably when a student answered a cell phone in class. There’s also a good chance that I would have cancelled quite a few classes out of sheer exhaustion.
So no regrets about leaving teaching. Just relief that I got through the semester.
I still have mountains of papers to grade, but the performance part of the job is over. Although I have lost interest in teaching the same courses I’ve taught for many decades, and have totally lost interest in the pedagogical issues that were once an all–consuming passion, when I’m in the classroom I usually enjoy the interaction.
As my husband put it, you’re like a professional actor in a long running play, Women’s Studies 101. You’ve done it a million times, but like a good pro, when you walk into the classroom something clicks and you perform.
It may be like this on other jobs as well. I was telling my dentist about this and he said, “It’s kind of like the practice of dentistry. I’m getting bored and sometimes don’t want to go to work, but when I get there and interact with the patients, it’s fine."
The anticipation was always so much worse than the reality. The past few years I was beginning to dread going back go work when September rolled around. In August, I felt like a condemned prisoner counting down the last few precious days. But then I got back into the groove and managed to get through. My guess is if I had stayed, it would have been a whole lot harder to get back into the groove (harness?)
So, bottom line, I got out at the right time, well before total burn-out.