I was partially chicken though. I came back part-time. My 70 hour teaching work week was now only 40 hours. Sometimes I even got to see the sun.
I taught only three classes. Journalism and eleventh grade English. I finally figured out what to ignore and what to make a big deal of in class. I stopped assigning homework and spent lots of class time working with my students on writing and reading the books with them. I figured out that the best teachers (which I was far from) shared their passion with their classes unabashedly. I think I managed to do that once, and surprised myself and my students.
I figured out how to help my really talented and wonderful journalism classes to put together a newspaper (without freaking out!) I learned that most students will respond better if they think you care, and sometimes communicating that you care is more important than teaching them about Pygmallion. I greeted them at the door every day. I relaxed and laughed sometimes.
I poured my heart and soul into coaching. (I had an awesome co-coach, so when I say we, you know I mean her too) We did camp (taking along my breastfeeding 6 month old), we coached strategy (run really fast and don't get lost), we organized a trip to a race in California (minus my 9 month old), and we tried to organize indoor track.
Once, when a parent really ticked me off by claiming that I didn't spend enough time running with the kids, I figured out how much I made an hour coaching. It amounted to $2.63.
I loved it. I found my dream job. Those kids were so awesome.
At the end of my second year of teaching I quit. I felt like I could leave with some sense of dignity. I kept coaching though, for one more year until we moved. Someday, when my kids don't need me at home, so in about 20 years, I'll go back to coaching, and maybe, just maybe, I'll go back to teaching.