I got asked that basic question on Saturday by the professors who consider themselves to be my extra set of parents. They want me to figure out whether I want to be a biologist or a physicist so I can start preparing for the application process next year. Naturally, my answer is that I want to be a biologist who understands EM and quantum. So, basically, I'll be looking for a graduate program where I can be a physics student doing interdisciplinary research so I can keep working on the squishy systems I perversely seem to prefer. (What can I say? Biology was my first love. One Scientific American article on the mechanisms used by antibiotic resistant bacteria while I was in elementary school and I was hooked.)
If only I'd made that decision firmly a year and a half ago...I knew then it was almost certainly what I wanted, but I felt the need to do something else first. There was no point in being mad as hell about the inequality of educational opportunity in this country if I wasn't going to do something about it. However, it doesn't feel like I'm doing much about it now. There are a lot of good kids here, but overall I'm not moving them forward as much as they need. I'm getting better as a teacher, but the classroom management remains a struggle. Even that seems to be improving, but every now and then I'll have one of those awful days where no one learns anything one period because, for example, two of the girls decide to fight in the middle of class and I have to physically restrain one of them and drag her into the hallway to keep anyone from getting seriously injured. It's draining.
Now we have had regime change in the school, with the head principal quitting and the superintendent taking over as acting principal. I remain hopeful that this will have some positive effect, but on the day before Christmas break began we had our first faculty meeting with the superintendent, and the gist of his speech was, "Things around here are screwed up. You aren't doing your jobs. I have no problem firing any of you. I am in charge and you will do exactly what I say, or else. I have no problem firing any of you. Have a Merry Christmas." Yeah, the school is failing dramatically and we need major changes, but I suspect he might make more progress if he tried a slightly different tone and tried to get us pulling together to improve things. Maybe I'm bad enough that he should get rid of me at the end of the year, but we're what he has right now, and if he'd start by offering us guidance on what he wants done differently, he might find that his teachers are as eager to turn things around as he is.