Today was the last day of my first year of teaching. All I can say is WOW! I am going to attempt to sum it up in a few paragraphs but all that I have experiences is more than could ever be shared through words alone.
The First Half of the Year
The first half of the year was mostly survival. Apparently it is common that the actual curriculum does not get rolling until a month or two into school. As a new teacher, that leaves a lot of time for scrambling to teach some kind of basic content as well as solidify procedures. I had many long nights and lesson planned pretty much daily. During this time, I felt like I was constantly teaching day to day with little insight to what the next week might bring.
The Second Half of the Year
I had a very unexpected experience from about January to March. It seemed as if during this time everything got harder. I was becoming much stronger in both my execution and planning but this meant I was able to do more, plan better, and differentiate more. Did my students benefit? Absolutely. Was it a lot of wear and tear on my own self. Absolutely again. This can be a long stretch.
During this period I also felt like I was lost myself as a teacher. This has been a very scary thing that I faced twice since graduation. For a girl who’s always seen teaching as the thing she was going to do and as the thing that came naturally, feeling like you lost that persona is terrifying. I didn’t feel like I even liked my kids. Sure I knew deep down I loved them, but day to day I was not excited to go into the classroom. From the moment they came in I was bored and annoyed by their 7 year old tales. My passion seemed to be slowly fading. This is a very tough hill to climb but you have to keep climbing no matter how much your legs hurt and your lungs are burning. The passion…it’s there, it’s just been reduced to the embers awaiting the next wood to ignite it back to its full fruition.
While it seems like it will never come, the last day of school will soon be upon you. It seems impossible but despite all the waiting it still somehow manages to sneak up, concealed until the last moment. I left knowing that I love my kids whole heartedly. The love I felt for my kids left my heart bursting with joy and sadness as I said good bye to them. A mother bird must eventually let her babies step out of the nest and use their own wings to lift them up. Despite knowing this, it is so hard to do. It was made harder knowing I would likely never get to see my students again and could not check up on them. In a school with such high turn over I can’t even secure their spot with a teacher that will be a good fit. They will be in the arms of new teachers not different from myself next year. Many of the students were sad about the end of the school year and some even wished it was longer. The world has thrown many obstacles at my students and the lack of stability in summers is often hard for them. However, they will be ok. We all will. After all, I survived my first year of teaching.
I am incredibly grateful for the experiences that I had, both good and bad. Would I go back and relive this year? Not a chance! But all of them have made me a more capable teacher who will be able to face the obstacles of next year. For that I am so thankful. No price can be put on that experience.