When I took this job, I remember telling myself and anyone who looked at me skeptically (mainly my mom) that “I can do anything for a year. If I want to back out after that, I can.”
Now I want anything but backing out.
I just finished my first year of teaching last week, ending with watching my students walk across our little gym stage to receive diplomas and various awards. They come up to me afterwards, demanding pictures (I demand them too) and demanding hugs (sideways hugs). My mom visited the school, and was welcomed by students showing her around our school garden—chicken coop and compost pile included. She got to see my work; not just where I work, but the work I do. The kids I teach. The projects completed on the walls in my classroom, that I describe with pride like they’re almost the work of my own children.
I’ve made a home of my school. I’ve settled in. My co-workers and I converse like we’ve known each other for years, not just 10 months. My classroom is finally set up the way I like it.
For a few months there won’t be assignments to grade, there won’t be lessons to write (that’s not entirely true since I’ll be planning in the summer), there won’t be kids to greet at the door in the morning, groaning at my “hey good morning—there’s a prompt on the board, get started!”
This weekend has been a strange one because I don’t have thoughts racing through my head about what I have to prepare for my kids because there won’t be any kids this week. We just have inservice meetings and curriculum mapping. I’m looking forward to it, but there is a small pang because I won’t get to do the teaching I’ve finally tapped into at the end of the year. Clicking with my students happened a little too late—I’m just glad it happened at all. Now I know what content they need, and how I need to deliver it.
You don’t get to feel like a real teacher during student teaching. You don’t feel like one during your first year, up until the end when you see your students passing your content area on the OGTs (“I passed reading and writing—your classes, Ms. Shanna!!”) You finally feel like one when you see the triumphs, see students pass your class, or receive awards for the good things they do. I realize that this must be why we come back again for another year.
So I’ll be back for another year for my students, but also for myself—for the ‘teaching high.’ It’s a hell of a payoff.