Seven full years in the classroom.
My first group of eighth graders are now sophomores in college.
I am closer to receiving my district's ten year pin than I am to the time when I received my five year recognition.
When I began in my district I was 22 and fresh out of college.....full of ideals, expectations and naivete.
I didn't realize that not all children come from a loving and supportive home like mine.
I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that some kids just don't care about school.....much less about making straight A's.
I had no idea the level of mature life experiences some of these children have gone through.
I saw the world in a wash of black and white, there was certainly no gray.
But I slowly grew up. I shelved my wild nights out on the town for a good movie and an even better book. I quit guy-hopping and settled down with a steady man. Shades of gray began to peek into my world and I found myself more compassionate and understanding with my students.
And then I had Natalie and everything was flipped.
She cracked my heart wide open and allowed me to be the warm, supportive and nurturing teacher and coach my students deserve. She taught me that kids come as they are and it's my job to help mold them into what I envision they CAN be which isn't always what I WANT them to be.
She has made me softer, more compassionate and a completely determined to see the WHOLE child and not just the bad attitude that walks into my classroom.
I feel like this is the year that I'm starting to hit my stride. I'm at that wonderful point where I have enough experience to not be walked all over but I'm still young enough to where I believe I truly can change a child's life.
Although taking on a different courseload this year which involves teaching a brand new subject kind of intimidated me in the beginning, I'm thankful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took this opportunity.
The hours are long and the days are busy but I'm fully consumed with love for my job. I hit the ground running but I feel like I'm one of those people who thrive under pressure. I enjoy having a to-do list and being challenged on a daily basis. I've been asked multiple times this year if I'm just completely stressed because of my schedule and I'm starting to think I'm doing something wrong because I'm NOT! Instead it's quite the opposite - because I know that I have deadlines and a limited amount of time to get things done, I become MUCH more focused and detailed when planning and preparing lessons and practices. Maybe it's the pressure or the seven years of experience under my belt but I've had a lazer-like focus this year and a clear vision of what I need to accomplish in the gym during the week in order to make my teams successful on Monday and Thursday nights.
Teachers right now are getting a bad rap. There seems to be a political agenda out there to the nation that teachers are leeches on the back of society; draining financial resources while failing to produce any sort of measurable amount of success in the classroom. And to those in public office who have their panties in a wad over the state of education in this country - you go ahead and make your speeches and spew your hateful (and false) rhetoric on the morning news programs. Because while you're shamelessly stirring the pot and promoting yourself, I'm working. I'm putting together lesson plans and modifying them for those students who struggle. I'm listening to kids cry about missing their big brothers and wonder how I can reach a student whose heart is sadly hardened at twelve years old. I'll keep helping them with their homework in the gym before I coach a volleyball game while I worry about the girl who sits by herself and apart from the team.
I am in the trenches doing the best I can with what I've been given and within the restricting confines of the measures that you have put into place while sitting in your ivory tower.
I didn't get into teaching for the politics, to teach to a test or to have my summers off. Even at the age of seventeen while I was a senior in high school, I had the intuition that I didn't want to leave this Earth without have impacted someone or something in any kind of way. So I chose to teach because I love the smile on a kid's face when they succeed on a test or make a good serve. I teach because there's a lot of bad in this world and it makes my heart hurt. I teach because I want to be the good in someone's life.
I just have this feeling....it's gonna be a good school year.