Something deeper has been gnawing at me, though. Even though I just finished my semester, and the holidays, with their generous time off for everyone in school, are approaching, I've been feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I've been feeling that this whole career change is a more insidious climb up a taller mountain than I even thought it was, and fearing that I would run out of energy and provisions before I could scale it. I've also been feeling sad that, as a sub, no matter how often I work at the same school, I'm an outsider there.
Yesterday, a book I'd ordered for my thesis work arrived. As I flipped idly through it, the stages of second culture acquisition popped out at me. I learned about this over the summer, but it was stored in the dusty bins at the back of my brain. I realized that I'm going through a similar process of adjustment, adjusting to a new career, to grad school, to the school where I substitute, to a new, topsy-turvy life, while adjusting my identity to include "teacher". And I realized that I recently progressed from Stage 1, the honeymoon, to the difficult Stage 2, culture shock. I quote from page 183 of the 4th ed. of Brown's Principles of Language Learning and Teaching:
1. Stage 1 is a period of excitement and euphoria over the newness of the surroundings.
2. Stage 2--culture shock--emerges as individuals feel the intrusion of more and more cultural differences into their own images of self and security.
Although Stage 2 feels pretty crappy, it is a sign of progress. It means I am closer to integration, to becoming an ESL teacher. But for now, I feel crabby and sensitive. Intellectually, though, I understand this is a positive step.
Can't we just skip Stage 2?