I just wrapped up my first week of my 18th year of teaching. It is kind of crazy because I keep waiting for my “burn out”, but here I am. I can admit that I am in a state of dread for the days leading up to that first day, but it never fails…Once the students fill those seats my heart is full! This year was no exception. Any mental baggage or darkness was lifted after meeting my students and my heart felt like it was going to explode.
Every summer I get an email from my own children’s principal and superintendent that starts with “We can’t wait!” I have a quick recall of every chaotic moment in my teaching career and think, “Yeah right!” After I’m done judging these very wonderful people for being disingenuous, I check myself. Because no matter how much I may complain about going back to school and leaving my family time, once the band-aid of that first alarm clock is ripped off I find myself with an absolute rush when our students enter those doors.
Meeting our new students or seeing past students never gets old. When I was an elementary teacher, I loved all the giant waves, running hugs, and the excitement those little ones brought to school. As a middle school teacher, I love that even though they pretend to not want to be there they can’t help but cue a smile or give a nod at their “overly obnoxious”, love filled teachers. They grumble because they have not had to get up before noon for months, but once the sleepiness wears off their shoulders relax, and they find security in the place that offers predictability and positivity.
We do not choose our students, but sometimes I feel as if the universe does. Meeting my students is like looking in a mirror. Each personality pulls on a different part of my heart and resonates with who I am and what I need to be to become a more complete person. Sometimes you meet a student that you felt you have known for a lifetime or a child that reminds you of your own children at home. Each spark that comes from those new relationships lays the foundation for a year filled with growth, both for your students and for you. Growth that will not be measured by test scores or GPA’s, but the kind of self-evolution that will make us all better human beings.
I have also been teaching long enough to know that turmoil and stress will come in the days ahead. Adult problems will inevitably find their ways into the dozens, upon dozens of meetings that will take place throughout the course of the year. We will have to fight through our egos and adult “wants” to make sure that every decision is seated at the heart of student needs. Yes, those days are waiting, but until then I am going to relish in the feeling I have right now. I am going to freeze this sensation of gratitude that reminds me teaching is a privilege and an honor. It is a job like no other. It pushes me to the brink of my human capabilities. It is an occupation where love is the currency of change.
Teachers when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and at the end of your rope and you can’t help but say, “Why me?” Recall that first day of school feeling. The answer to “Why me?” is because you are one of the lucky ones in life who have been equipped to make a difference in the lives of children. What better answer could there be?