On Friday, I will walk out of a place that has become my second home for the very last time. I have spent the last eight years in my classroom, getting to know students and their families, learning so much alongside my kids, and developing a philosophy of education vastly different from when I started. I still remember my first year, eager to get into my room and get started but clueless about what I would actually face when the kids showed up. Each year has presented its own joys and challenges, and I have forever been changed by my experiences as a teacher.
In cleaning out my classroom (and home office), I was horrified to discover I was a little bit of a hoarder. So I went on a decluttering binge (I’m not a true hoarder though because I LOVE to throw stuff away) and this round, my college binders were the victims of my obsessive need to clean. In the midst of this great trash frenzy, I found the very first paper I ever wrote for an education class, titled “Why I Want to Teach”. In it, I cited my own childhood teachers as inspiration and wrote about my hope to also inspire lifelong learning. Reading it made me a little sad to be leaving the profession (for now), even though I’m still super excited to stay home with my babies.
I then started thinking about what I would miss about teaching. And here’s what I came up with:
- I will miss the look kids get when they FINALLY understand something that’s been so confusing.
- I will miss the moments when I could see kids standing up a little straighter because they finished a great but challenging book or tearfully put the final period on a treasured piece of writing.
- I will miss those times when the kids actually taught me something (which happened way more often than one might think).
- Kid: So then, Harry visits the Mirror of Desire.
- Me: Ummm…don’t you mean the Mirror of Erised?
- Kid: Well, yeah, but Erised is Desire spelled backwards, didn’t you know that?
- Me: … wait WHAT?!
- I will miss the times that kids show such tenderness and kindness to one another that you hope they’ll never change. Like the time a kid texted his buddy to tell him he really admired how hard he had worked to change his disruptive behavior. His friend was a completely different student after that small act of encouragement that couldn’t have come from anybody but a peer.
- I will miss the outrage the kids experience when we learn about how the Native Americans were “relocated”, or how badly slaves were treated, or that schools used to be segregated, hearing them vow that they’ll never allow people to be treated that way again.
- Oddly enough, I will miss the lesson planning. I LOVE to geek out over some nice, neat, detailed lesson plans (yes, I’m a weirdo!).
- And I will for sure miss the relationships I’ve made and the conversations I’ve had about certain students or great books or best learning strategies. There’s just something about being at a school everyday that creates a bond that can’t exactly be defined.
On the flip side, I also got to thinking about the things I’m not too sad to leave behind. What I will NOT miss:
- The politics of a large school district-the constant changing of expectations and textbook adoptions and curriculum. It gets a little exhausting to try to keep up with it all.
- The pressure of time and the chasing of the clock to get it all in by the end of the day. Time is a luxury that just doesn’t exist in a classroom; there’s never enough.
- The testing- the stress of it, the prep for it.
- And that helpless feeling when you just can’t do any more for a child but you so desperately want to.
Before I move on to my next great adventure, to all the amazing teachers still in the trenches, I have some words for you:
Thank you for challenging my ideas and my thinking and turning me into the teacher (and mom) I’ve become.
Thank you for continuing to show up and share your passion and smiles with the kids that walk through your doors.
Thank you for constantly learning and perfecting your craft- your efforts are not wasted!
I know what a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting job it is (and often times, thankless), but you made a difference to your 20 kids every day this year (and last and next and so on). So, enjoy your summer, drink lots of wine (or margaritas or sweet tea or whatever), sit by the pool with your feet up, read a really juicy book or five, because you deserve it. My thoughts will be with all of you in the fall as you meet your new batch of kiddos that you will inevitably change for the better.
Currently Reading: The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan. I’m a huge fan of Riordan’s storytelling and sarcastic wit. Plus, in teaching 4th grade and reading children’s books, I have grown to love the characters he created as well! This is a great series so far.
Currently Baking: My “famous” red velvet cupcakes. I was asked to bring them to a cookout this weekend and who am I to deprive my loved ones of their favorite cupcake? Also, these might be the best looking ones I’ve ever made. And they were delish.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.