It has been several months since I have even had a simple moment to sit down and reflect on what the last year has looked like. But know, I find myself in that position. Sitting back and reflecting. Something that I think we should all do, especially when we change our lives in such a drastic way and several months have passed- you should sit back and think about if the choice you made was a good one, was one that you are proud of, is it making your life better or worse.
One year ago (almost exactly) I was hired to teach high school. This was a goal I had been working towards for longer than even I will admit. But I finally had accomplished it. And I was thrilled and terrified. I had never done anything like this before. And it was a drastic change. I had changed from a hotel manager to a cube dweller, and while that change was a lot bigger than I thought at the time, I knew this change was big and that things were going to be hard, but good.
And they were. Hard, so incredibly hard. Harder than any job I have ever had. But good. Better than anything that has happened in the recent years.
The last nine months have been so incredible that I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Those first few days were terrifying, but I think the kids are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t even realize you are as nervous as they are. And I was. Terrified. I wanted to do my very best but I was nervous. I also left my previous job with a sour taste in my mouth for “upper management” and was nervous that they wouldn’t like me anymore than those “in charge” had at the previous place.
But I started and poured my heart and soul into the job. So much in fact that my son asked me to go back to the other job because when I left the office at 5pm, I was gone, but this teacher thing followed me around everywhere. Always writing a lesson plan or thinking about a lesson or worrying about papers to grade. And if that was all done, then… I worried about those stinking kids like they were my own. But, his tune has changed, as I learned how to better use my time and now when I am home, I am almost always not working on school stuff- that he can see. Plus, with summer within sight, he is pleased as punch that we will be home together to play and act silly all summer long.
With only a little bit of school stuff left to do. Only I will do most of that while he is away of asleep.
So the last year has been amazing. I only had 9 seniors this semester, but a few of them were extra special. One who is too cool for school. Who painted a beautiful mural on my wall which I will cry over not being able to take with me when we get our new school. She wouldn’t even look at me at graduation, but I know she was happy to see me there acting like a silly, crazy person who had shown up to see them graduate. I saw that twinkle in her eye as she walked passed me. The second was that kid who took my class, a freshman level course, as a senior. He just had to have a place to park himself every other day for an hour and a half. He was a good boy, who always did his work, even the stuff he thought was ridiculous. He carried that flour baby around and he sewed several pillows, and I think he might have learned a little something in the process. These two kiddos will help me remember my first year teaching. Along with a dozen or so others crazy under classmen. Like the mechanical baby girl, who talked incessantly about those silly mechanical babies until she had to carry around a flour baby for a week. Haven’t heard a peep about them since. Or the student athlete who always did her work BEFORE she was going to be out for athletics. And managed to get a 98 in my class. And the poor little boy who transferred schools at the semester and gave me the first and last teacher gift I have ever received. The teacher mug with candy. This boy was special to me, because after the first day of school if I had never seen him again, it would have been too soon. But we muddled through and when he left he had been clean and sober for 4 weeks and was proud to tell me about it. And I was proud of him for it.
So over all the last year has been a whirl wind of time. I don’t even remember feeling down in the trenches, but I know I was there. I know there was a time when I felt overwhelmed and under qualified and lost for what to do and say. But know I know better than I did before and I will know even better this time next year. I can’t believe how far I have come. I can’t believe how excited I am to go back next year and start all over with those silly little freshman. And some other classes that will have more upper classmen in them. This has been the best career change I have ever made. And I think I am only as good as I am because I come from a line of educators and because of the life I have lived up to this point. If I hadn’t worked all the crazy jobs I had in the past, then I wouldn’t be half as prepared as I am for this now.
I love it. I love hearing “SUMPTER!” in the hallways, from several students. I love the nothing drawings that students have made for me. I love the exhaustion that I feel most days. I love that there are students who love me and students who hate me. I love that I am making a difference in the lives of some of these knuckleheads. They have left their mark on me, I just hope that I have left a mark on them.