The Beginning of the End.
I have twenty two school days left to call myself a teacher.
I am leaving public education. When colleagues, friends, or family ask me if I’m excited about my new corporate job, my automatic response is both Yes and No. Yes, I am excited for new challenges and to begin a new career in a field where I feel I will be successful and fulfilled. The no is not so much a no to the excitement of something new, but rather a no to the loss of a part of my identity. No, I’m not excited to no longer be a teacher. No I’m not particularly excited about leaving a field where I’m comfortable, happy, and invested. It has taken me a few weeks to decide that the No and the Yes don’t cancel each other out, and it’s OK to feel both ways at the same time.
I’m not trying to dramatic about leaving teaching. I know I still have license and could return to the classroom if I wanted. I know that nothing has to permanent, but I’m hoping that this particular change will be the last one I make for a long time. With that being said, there are so many emotions that come with the idea of leaving teaching. This is where it’s easy to call me dramatic, but I feel as though I’m losing a part of my identity. I have wanted to be a teacher for all of my life, except for the short periods of time where I wanted to be a Disney illustrator and an Egyptologist. Teaching has been as much of who I am as my titles as mother and wife. It’s just me. There’s a big sense of loss and even some wounded pride that comes with knowing I’m sort of losing that part of myself.
As I move through the last few weeks of school I’ve been trying to remind myself to savor it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve been trying to give the hugs, laugh at the jokes, embrace the struggles, and really live in the moment because they are likely some of the last I’ll have as an educator in the classroom. I want to remind myself of all the things I’ve done, seen, and experienced in my seven years. I know to some seven years may seem short, but this isn’t their story. It’s mine. I have clung to those seven years as a blessing and burden; they are some of the greatest and most difficult works of my life. For each year, I want to reflect and think of what I learned, how it shaped me, and what I’ll carry forward into a new experience.
This is year one.
Year one was hard. Just, really hard. I remember being broke and eating spaghetti so many times in a row that the other teachers on my team began bringing me portions of their leftovers from home because they were sick of seeing me eat spaghetti. I remember being sick. God, I was so, so sick. The flu, walking pneumonia, strep, sinus infections galore, migraines- I had it all. I remember feeling very helpless at times. I learned the hard way that sometimes you are just on your own to figure it out. Sometimes an administrator, or a phone call home, or a talking to outside the classroom door could not change a child’s mind who had made it up to do as he wanted to do. I learned that I did not know the kids I taught, and on many levels did not connect to them. They didn’t connect to me, and I know now how important that is for a classroom dynamic to be successful. I remember learning that not everyone was going to believe my intentions when the outcomes didn’t fall the way I wanted them to. I learned that people will believe what they want to believe, even if it isn’t what’s right or true.
I remember feeling very jaded at times at how negative some people’s perspectives where, and looking back on it I know now that they had seen so much more than I had that had shaped their views that way. I remember getting caught showing a movie in class because I just couldn’t deal with the 26 kids in my 6th block class who ran me ragged each day. I remember they had so many needs that I felt so unqualified to fill and had no clue where to start. I remember the first time I had to call DSS about a student, and how it broke my heart to see kids removed from their homes.
I think my first year was about opening my eyes, to see what my job really was. I had so many preconceived ideas of what I thought it would be, but very few of those were in line with what I would do day in and day out. It taught me to first take things for what they are, and to be more open to listening and learning first before assuming I know or understand. It was a humbling year, and I needed to be humbled.