Today is my last work day of the 2009-10 school year… and the end of my first year back in the classroom. I can’t believe how quickly the year flew by!
Throughout the school year, I was constantly asked if I was still glad about my decision to leave a position in Professional Development to return to the classroom. “Hey, Michelle! Any regrets?” “Don’t you miss working in an office where you get a whole hour for lunch?” “Don’t you miss a more flexible schedule?”
Resoundingly, my answer was absolutely NO REGRETS. Best decision I have made for myself in years!
It was definitely a selfish decision. I missed teaching. I missed working with children. The pay cut was substantial, but my family supported this decision. You know what they say: if mama ain’t happy…
The first two weeks of school were pretty overwhelming. I have a freakishly good memory (you’ll know this if you’ve ever met me), but I had 430 new names to learn. There were skills I had to dig out of somewhere deep inside me that hadn’t been used in almost ten years. I worried whether the kids would like me. I worried whether the staff would like me. I wondered if I was simply philosophy-rich, yet practice-poor.
Maybe the most challenging part of going into this school year– would I be able to walk the talk I’ve been delivering to teachers for the last eight years? Could I encourage and engage and enable my students to think, create, solve problems? Oh, yes… and learn the content of the curriculum?
I hope that I did… no, I know that I did. Sure, I stumbled more than once (okay, a lot), but I can say with confidence that I taught differently this year than I did during my first six years in the classroom. It wasn’t always perfect or pretty, and I still have a long way to go, but I think I did some good things in the classroom this year.
The reasons: I have fabulous kids! I have great colleagues and a supportive administration. I’m in a school district that insists upon excellence from its teachers. I’m lucky to have a Personal Learning Network that is global, accessible, full of resources, and always willing to help!
But for me, it always comes back to the students… they deserve my best everyday. Even when that doesn’t happen (we are all human, right?), those little faces and minds are what bring you back to your classroom with the notion that you’re going to do whatever it takes to help those minds grow! That might sound a little “sunshine-y” to cynics, but those kids are what kept me going every day, week, month.
Most importantly, I remembered how much I love teaching. Not so that I can be the star on the stage, imparting my sacred wisdom to a bunch of children who know nothing… but because I also love learning. What a joy it is to me to watch kids discover the fun in learning! And to be back teaching music again… wow! Is there anything greater than listening to children sing? I’m not sure I’ve found its equal.
Am I glad I returned to teaching? No. I’m ECSTATIC!
I’ll close with this–
Yesterday, our students had a half day of school. One of my 4th graders gave me a gift, and attached was this poem:
It’s the end of the year,
and I thought you should know
part of me cannot wait ’til summer
and a part doesn’t want to go.
It’s not recess or lunchtime
or even time with my friends.
It’s because I will miss you
that I don’t want the year to end.
Thanks for being a great teacher!*
It’s been a great year! Can’t wait for August, so that we can all see each other again and learn some more!
*I don’t know the source… if anyone has it, please share so that I may properly credit/cite. Thanks!
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/234942843/