TMOA of the 408 divulges he's entered a period of career crisis--of professional longing and frustration--that he calls "the ledge." It happens, he says, to many ambitious teachers in the three-to-five year range:
I live up on that ledge, man, live there in the tightrope narrow space where you need to struggle against the constraints of the system in which you work. It’s in that space where you know you do it for the kids, where everything is for the kids, where you get paid in appreciations and handslaps and end-of-the-year surveys from the kids, and you love doing it for the kids, and you want to do it for the kids, but why can’t you do it for any of the other myriad reasons available to other professionals? Why must you be limited, less? You f-ing love the kids, but you want to also work for the things that everyone else gets to work for. You want the opportunity to put your best out there and see it rewarded by something that comes out of the other side of the Venn Diagram, the side that doesn’t have anything to do with the kids. You want to be pushed and challenged, and when you rise to the challenge you want to receive some form of acknowledgement that does not, and must not, arrive in the shape of an apple.
I want to grow. I want to excel. I want to feel like I’m not doing the same entry-level job I was six years ago. I want to feel like factors outside of my own willingness and drive to improve are at work in shaping my professional life.
Another ambitious teacher, Ms. Frizzle, says she's in the same place.