This Teacher’s Lesson

I’ve been feeling in a rut over my chosen profession. Two school years have gone by, and I have yet to be employed as a full-time teacher; not for lack of trying. At each summer’s end, I’ve gone to at least two interviews. It’s always the same scenario: 30+ candidates vying for that one open position. When I began this process, I was exuding self-confidence, sure that I would be among the top candidates.  However, as each subsequent apologetic denial came, my confidence weaned exponentially. Maybe my reserved, awkward demeanor overpowered my smiling kindness and turned the hiring committees off to me?  Or maybe I wasn’t as great a teacher as I thought?

And that, my friends, is where my mind has been for the last year. I’ve been subbing sporadically, and whenever I get handed a troublesome classroom, my confidence in teaching wanes a little bit more.  I pride myself on my classroom management skills in my own class, but taking on another teacher’s group is a whole other beast. Not being familiar with their routines, and not developing the respect and rapport that comes with having a group of children from Day 1, brings upon a challenge that I don’t particularly care for. At the end of the day, I usually end up feeling defeated and sure that I’m losing my skills as a teacher. Stung with the hurt of denial, and yearning for steady financial independence, I’ve begun searching out alternative, rewarding careers for my skill-set. I’ve got nothing, so if you’ve got some ideas, shoot ’em over!

The nice thing about not being employed full-time is my freedom of making plans at any time, on any day. So last Friday, I drove two hours to Adelanto to watch the 8th grade promotion ceremony at my last school of employment.  When I left Bradach School, I had just finished a year of teaching a 5th/6th grade combo class. I also taught Writing to the other full 6th grade class every morning, so I was able to develop a relationship with all 55 6th graders in our little Middle School Academy. The students and parents had my personal cell phone number for school-related questions, and while it was rarely used during the school year, I was surprised with texts from two of my former girls at the start of their new 7th grade year.  They wanted to share with me their progress and worries, and I kept in appropriate touch with them; always allowing them to text me first, and replying fittingly.

When they began 8th grade, they immediately asked me to attend their graduation at the end of the year, and checked in with me periodically throughout the year to make sure I wouldn’t revoke my promise.  So last week, I made the trek out to see them graduate.

Interestingly enough, my best friend from college, Chris, worked at Bradach for the end of this school year, so I was able to travel up with him and establish a “home base” in his classroom during my visit. Seeing all my old students so grown up and ready to embark on a new adventure struck an emotional chord in me, and made me tear up upon sight of them. I basically lost all my composure when my ex-principal invited me to come up to be a part of the receiving line as the students received their diplomas. It was an incredibly special moment for me to be a part of their final minutes at Bradach. Their graduation seemed to serve as the end to a chapter in my life as well.

That said; it was so great being back! All my old colleagues warmly welcomed me, and throughout the day, they continued to speak highly of me; expressing how much they missed me, and what a shame it was that today’s kids were missing out on such a great teacher. I left Adelanto with a renewed sense of self-worth. I no longer feel as though I don’t deserve to be in the classroom. It’s where I belong, and I know that once this economy gets back on its feet, some school is going to be lucky to have me! Take that, depression!

My Bradach Girls

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