The Tough Calls

I am faced with a deadline.

Years ago, my wife and I took the first steps toward starting a boarding school of our own. Through a combination of factors, things stalled and fell apart before they really got started (and luckily before we had put too much money into it). It has remained a dream of mine ever since.

Unfortunately, in the past few years of working at boarding schools, I was forced to face the fact that I may not be suited for this work. I came home grumpy (or downright angry) many days, worked roughly six days a week for twelve hours a day, and saw my impact slowly (sometimes quickly) swept away when I left. Despite my personal growth, my work harmed my marriage, as my wife spent most of her time at home putting up with my stress.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a positive experience despite how difficult it was for both my wife and me. There were positive things as well – some students who remember me fondly, some equipment and resources left behind for future teachers. I still love to teach. However, I can’t overlook the impact that teaching boarding school had on me. It seems that I am not emotionally well-suited to it, at least where I was for the last three years, and I’m not interested in losing my marriage.

And yet the dream is still there. When people ask me, “What do you want to do with your life?” I’m in a place where I have to say, “I have no idea.” Part of my is still very much tied into the school idea, hoping that I might be more suited to the administrative end. When it comes to working in curriculum development, I’d rather implement things that might not succeed than plan things that will never be implemented. I have an unfortunate desire to see my actions have impact. So I agonize back and forth about it, thinking about how I might do things, whether I’m cut out for it, where I might possibly raise the money, whether we as a young couple can afford to do this, and so forth.

Having talked to some other folks who started schools themselves, it’s tough to tell whether they went through phases like this.

My wife and I set a deadline, with the goal of ending the agonization. I need to decide by the end of January whether to put it in action or put it on the shelf. I’ve been putting together some plans, but am still, at my core, very uncertain.

Most of what I did while teaching involved very easy decisions compared to this. “Do I reformat my entire course four days before it’s supposed to start” was a very easy “yes” for me. “Do I leave this place to try to find employment elsewhere” has never been tough despite the economy. “Do I put my finances and personal life on the line” is much more difficult.

I post this here not necessarily because I need my readers’ input (though I welcome any you might have), but instead because I feel that it’s always useful to know what others are going through and how they deal with their own struggles. That way, when we make our own tough calls, we know that others have made them too, with as much uncertainty.

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About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on January 2, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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