Change is the only constant - Heraclitus
[Now I don't always go around quoting Greek philosophers but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.]
I have been a classroom teacher for 18 years.
I went from 1st grade to 5th grade in my first year of teaching. I moved classrooms three times at my second school. In fact, in my first 7 years of teaching, I either moved schools or classrooms every year. I moved from 5th to 4th then back to 5th then back to 4th then back to 5th [and that involved moving classrooms].
In the 2006-2007 school year, I had my first experience where I questioned why I was teaching at all. [Some of you that have had me might still be asking that question.] I was pregnant with child number four. [Incidentally, we did stop drinking all tap water in 2006.] I was one year into a three year graduate program. [I guess having 3 kids, a full time job, being pregnant, having a husband that worked and coached an hour away wasn't enough.] Around Halloween, the wheels fell off.
The list was given to me. The list that included every single 5th grader teacher in the county, along with their scores.
My name was at the bottom. [In golf, the low score is really good. Not so good in this case.] I would love to say that some help was offered or that anything positive was even said to me or about me during this encounter. But...that's in the past. I have learned that every single encounter is orchestrated by God. Take an opportunity to learn from every situation - good or bad.
In that one instant, I felt like I had two choices [as Andy Mineo would say]: Make moves or make excuses.
I chose to move.
I moved on being a better reading teacher.
I moved on learning to let things go [well, almost].
I moved on soaking up knowledge and ideas from graduate school.
And after another year in 5th grade, I moved on.
Since 2008, I have been an 8th grade science teacher.
I've often said that teaching 8th grade was much like teaching 5th grade - the kids act the same but they are just taller. [Well, some of them.]
I have enjoyed teaching middle school. [Well, most of the time.]
Here are a few things I've learned along the way:
- 8th graders are funny. [Sometimes good funny and sometimes not-so-good funny.]
- Many middle schoolers just want to belong [not unlike most human beings...a few of you just don't care] and they want you to notice them. A few kids gain that attention negatively.
- It is mandatory that a you pick your battles carefully. Every single mole hill does not have to become a mountain. [I have learned that the hard way.]
- Love what you teach and kids will love it too. Move, dance, be silly, listen to 80s Pandora [that's just good teaching], and laugh. [A lot.]
- Learn. To. Let. It. Go. Bad days. Terrible lessons. Hurt feelings. Things beyond your control. [This is the one I am still working on. I let things eat at me because I never want anyone to be disappointed in me.]
- The middle school is a loud place. Get used to it.
- Be consistent. Many of them may not remember a pencil or that you asked them to study for a vocabulary quiz but they will remember you promised them a sucker for being good [that one time].
I have made some incredibly wonderful friends. Friends that have laughed with me and cried with me. Friends that have loved my children and loved me when I couldn't love myself. Friends that have encouraged and energized me to be a better teacher and a better person.
I have been blessed to teach some amazing students that taught me so much about life. Many times, middle schoolers do not want anyone to see the inside yet they don't realize how transparent they are at this awkward age. My heart aches for the issues and things that kids, so young, are expected to just accept. Yet, through some struggles, a lot of tears, many walks to and from lunch, and just through general conversation, some amazing children have been in my life.
I would not trade anything for my time as an 8th grade science teacher. Not one thing.
I am leaving middle school.
An opportunity to go back to my roots and be with elementary children found its way to me. [I know that God does not deal in luck and chance.] When I left 5th grade to come to the middle school it wasn't just about moving because Craig was here but more about getting out of a situation. Again, I won't go into much detail but I knew that staying was not ever going to change the mindset and perception of me.
This time, I am leaving for an opportunity I've always wanted.
Not running away from something terrible.
Not looking to get out because I know it is time.
[Just a side note: Please do not question my loyalty to my job or this community. Do not mistake my taking an opportunity to do something different for any kind of "leaving for greener grass". That will be all I'll say about folks who cannot do their own jobs well because they are too tired from being busy bodies.]
I am going to be a reading teacher.
This opportunity is just a God send and something I have prayed about for a few years. God has closed so many doors to jobs I pursued in the last few years.
This door was wide open.
And I am super excited.