Well, another school year has come to an end. I’ve cleaned out the cubbies taken everything off the wall and turned in my keys. I really cannot believe how fast it has gone. But what’s even harder for me to believe is that I have now wrapped up my 10th year of teaching. A decade. It seems like yesterday I was a fresh-out-of-college 22 year old newlywed ready to save the world.
So much hope and excitement in those first years. I look back on that time and it honestly seems like it was yesterday, except for the fact that my first group of kiddos (the ones in the pic above) just graduated from high school last month! That officially made me feel “experienced”!
I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself through teaching itty bitties, but one of the greatest realizations coming from these 10 years of experience is that with this profession you have to be all in. That requires impeccable patience and a deep-rooted love for the young. If either one of those fade, it’s time to step away.
I’ve seen so much more than I expected to see in a decade. I’ve felt much more than I expected to feel. It’s an incredibly daring, wild ride, and I am only at the beginning of the track.
I’ve seen the bad and the ugly: I’ve seen schools hand out free winter coats to students just to have their parents turn around and sell them for money; I’ve prayed with a student’s frantic mother after her daughter had been kidnapped and forced into a prostitution ring; I’ve had a student run away from home and overdose on drugs; I’ve watched a coworker die right in front of my eyes; I’ve been dragged down the hall with my arms wrapped around a student to make sure she didn’t beat the living hell out of another one; I’ve had guardians straight up abandon their child at school knowing that child would be picked up by CPS later that day; I’ve been yelled at by a parent in front of my class because I marked his kid tardy; I’ve seen a school come together in love after the suicidal death of a student’s brother; I’ve felt the deep heartache of losing a prior student to gang violence. It is an incredibly daring, wild ride, this teaching life.
But I’ve also seen the good and the beautiful. I’ve seen kids who were malnourished emotionally and academically get adopted into love and then soar; I’ve been called on Mother’s Day by a student after she had run away from home; I’ve sat in circles with fellow teachers in prayer and tears over our students; I’ve had kids leave me secret notes on my chair before school; I’ve watched the light in a child’s eyes when they realize how to do something they had been struggling with; I’ve been told “I love you” COUNTLESS times by my students; There are more stacks of notes from prior students sitting in my house than from my own kids; I’ve had parents make me photo books, wall hangings, baby blankets, and other beautiful keepsakes; I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the surprise homecomings of many military parents after year-long deployments; one of my prior students named her baby after my first-born. It’s an incredibly daring, wild ride, this teaching life.
I’ll be honest with you…this teaching thing is stressful. There are days I’m not sure if I can handle juggling two kids, a house, a full time job and being a military spouse. BUT I’ve realized that the joy I get from the successes, the love I feel from my students every day, the hugs, the knowledge that I am helping shape multiple lives…yeah, it’s worth it. After 10 years, I’m still all in.