After not sharing for over a year, I’m back. My last post “What Will I Learn This Year?” was written from a time and place that I can never return to. I had absolutely NO idea what was in store for me last school year. Not even in my wildest or worst nightmares could I have imagined what I would endure as a professional. I learned so much about myself. It was a very dark time. Disturbingly dark. I am only able to write about it now. Even this past summer wasn’t long enough for me to shake off the traumatizing experience. I am still haunted by it, but not so much that I can’t speak or write about it anymore. Now, it is a cautionary tale. There are still some things that I will not discuss because I grapple with how districts and schools allow such goings on without some form of disciplinary action. Unless you are an educator and are privy to the information passed on in meetings and trainings, you have no idea. Things are hidden, overlooked, unexplained and we have to pretend that we are okay with it. I was not, and am not okay with it.
To share a snippet of my experiences, I will first say that last school year a teacher I WAS NOT!!! I was merely adult supervision over a gaggle of children. I was the person being held totally responsible for the safety and learning of children, but who lacked any and all authority to correct unsavory behaviors that stopped me from doing my job. I was an over-licensed, underpaid, full-time babysitter. I was a warden. I was the tallest person in the room. I was a soul dying to get the hell out of there…
Things that were going on in my classroom began to make me sick, literally. For the first time in my life I was seriously questioning my career choice. “This can not be real” and “this is not happening” were phrases that I would say to myself and my colleagues several times a day. My eyes and ears were not deceiving me. My colleagues confirmed this for me. I had lost all hope in the teaching profession. I started to believe that all children behaved in the manner in which those that I had been exposed to behaved. These children were wise beyond their years. I’m not talking about book wise, I mean street wise. The conversations and behaviors exhibited were like those of adults. There were limited child-like activities. Often times as I was walking the classroom, instead of working on the assigned work I would find students off task. I would hear side conversations laced with profanity. I would find students rolling on the floor, banging on the desks, out of their seats, etc. And if I tried to get them back on task or find out what was going on, I was more than likely to be greeted with a look of disgust and/or cursed out. It was a ride I will NEVER forget and one that I will NEVER ride again.
Thankfully, I was hired at a new school right before this school year began. I was still a little leery about the profession. I was hoping that this change of scenery would be a good thing. I was a GREAT thing!!! It was just what the doctor ordered. It was soothing to my aching soul. It didn’t take long for me to see just how skewed my view was when I met my class this year. They were so sweet and gentle. I was aloof and gruff. I had been conditioned to work with students that required that of me in years past. It hit me like a bolt of lightning. I HAD to change. Fortunately for me, all the walls I had built and misconceptions that I had were melted away…by of all people, my students. They didn’t need me to be a warden. They needed me to be the nurturing, caring, and loving teacher that I had been years ago. They do not curse me out or hit me (yes, I was hit by former students). They tell me that it’s okay if I make a mistake and use kind words and give me hugs. They greet me with smiles and come to school everyday ready for a learning adventure. I have learned to thank them for their patience with me. I have learned in this short time since I’ve met them, to love teaching again.
I chose to write today because even though it is the day after Thanksgiving, I am still thankful to be an educator. I am thankful that I am at a new school. I am so very thankful for the class that I have been blessed with this year. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It was just in time. I was going to leave the teaching profession if I had to go back to that school where I dedicated well over 10 years of service. I am thankful for that text that I received late this summer informing me that several positions were available at a school I had been hoping to work. I am thankful for that interview that changed it all for me. I absolutely love what I do. I had lost my passion (and part of my sanity) at the other school. I am so excited that I have regained a passion for what I do again. I think I am most grateful for that. I look forward to each work day with a renewed sense of pride and joy as I enter my classroom. As hard as it is for me to type these following words, I am thankful for the experiences that I had at my old school. Without them I would not believe those that still have to work under those conditions when and if they shared some of their horror stories. I now know them to be true. I’m also thankful for those experiences because without them I may not have pushed myself to leave and get this new experience. And today I can truly say that I am…thankful.