Did I mention I got a new job? It's true. I am finally leaving the school I haven't liked much and only took because they were the only one hiring and then couldn't get hired anywhere else. It only took four soul-sucking years! But they weren't all bad, because I feel like I've learned a lot of important lessons from this place.
- I've learned that I have a real passion for my job. If I didn't, I would have quit by now.
- I've learned that planning ahead is always worth it.
- I've learned that kids can tell when you really care about them.
- I've learned that there is a difference between sucking up to your bosses and cultivating relationships with them.
- I've learned how to talk, and how to listen, and how to sometimes do both without doing much at all.
- I've learned that teaching is not for everybody, that not every teacher is a great match with every student, or every grade, or every assistant. I've also learned that in life there are going to be people that, try as you might, you can't get along with, and you just have to do your best to move past them and not let them get in your way.
- I've learned that I'm not afraid of hard work, or trying something new, or aiming too high and having something not work out perfectly. And I've learned how to ask for help and feedback.
- I've learned that when it comes to teaching, I will pick substance over style every time. Though I'm learning how to do that style thing, too.
- I've learned I'm better at teaching some things (English, Reading, History) than others (Math, Science). And though I need to work harder at being more comfortable with those other subjects, it doesn't mean I need to feel guilty or uncomfortable when teaching the subjects where I can really shine.
- I've learned that I can do more than I-- or other people-- thought I could. And that if my kids are engaged and interested, they'll follow me anywhere.
This past year has been challenging but rewarding, too. I've struggled with lots of school politics, I've overcome disappointment with my grade and partner teacher assignment, I've dabbled with being the Jimmy Hoffa of the Teaching Assistants (no thanks!), I've taken on new responsibilities no one ever asked me to do, and I've thrown myself into my job with as much enthusiasm as I could given that some days I wanted to burn the place down (sans children, of course). I've led counseling sessions, directed plays, and shared my love of books, reading, and justice with dozens of small children.
There were lots of times over the past few years, particularly as I kept applying and getting passed over for lead positions, where I felt pretty low, undervalued by the administration, ignored by colleagues and parents. But as I stopped feeling bitter and sorry for myself and lost myself in the work, my work started getting better-- or rather, continued to get better. Sometimes something I did would get noticed by an adult, which was nice. And sometimes the only ones who knew or appreciated it would be me and my students. Which, eventually, I became ok with.
Now that people know that I'm leaving, compliments are coming out of the woodwork. Parents have been emailing me letting me know how sad they are to lose me but how grateful they are that I taught their kids. Students have been begging me to stay, telling me they love me, hopefully asking if I might come back if I decide I don't like my new school. It's bittersweet, but I'm happy to have a chance at something new, and hopefully more functional.
So: next school year, new school, new grade (Middle School!), new commute (stay tuned for our new series, the Yids shop for a car and a place to put it). I feel like I've exchanged one big ball of stress for a new one. But at the same time, I can't stop smiling. Mrs. Yid told me at the beginning of my job hunt this year that she didn't care if a new school I wound up at had problems, too, as long as they were "new problems." "I'm sick of hearing about these problems," she said.
So, here's to some new problems. Here we go.