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Reflections on Year Four

Hi, I've been living in crazy town. Which in case you didn't know is where you live when you are moving/getting married/in a long distance relationship/ preparing 118 youths for a state test and just overall overwhelmed with life. I wanted to make sure that I took a moment in real time to record my thoughts/feelings/emotions on ending my 4th year of teaching. 

Teachers accumulate a lot of "stuff". Today I packed up all my teaching stuff. Impressively it all fit into one rubber maid tub, a file box and a bag. As far as teacher stuff goes I should probably get an award for least amount of stuff any teacher moved out of a room (no need to discuss the 19568 trips my students took to the recycling bin last week). I looked at my cart and felt a little guilty.

"Why don't I have more stuff?"
"Does not having more books, more markers, more laminated inspirational posters make me a bad teacher?"
"Does the the EPA might have me on a watch list...?"

As I sat staring at my cart all loaded up to be taken to my car I noted that I really wasn't ready emotionally or physically to load up my car. This was it. Four years of teaching reduced to a 2 boxes and a bag (and a really full google drive). Why didn't I have more to show for four years?

Then it hit me.

The products of my work are people.

They are people in high schools using the lessons I taught them (trust me, they will ALWAYS remember what a thesis is after the way I taught it). 
They are the co-workers who shared my celebrations and failures.
They are dancers who learned a lesson the hard way.
They are students who remember the extra hug I gave them when they were having a bad day.
They are parents who let me love their kids 8 hours a day.
They are living breathing humans who each have a piece of my heart walking around with them.

Having the most books or laminated posters isn't what made me a good teacher. In fact 90% of the time my room was a disaster and SO not worthy of Pinterest. My energy was going into fiercely loving each student who walked into my room. Teaching them what they needed to the function in life (not on a test!) because I knew, even if they didn't, that English would impact their lives so profoundly... eventually.

I don't know when the next time I will have my own classroom is... and that makes me cry  into my latte (true life I am writing this in Starbucks with my sunglasses on because I am legit crying #embarrassing... update the barista just brought me another drink because I am crying so hard). I do know however that the past four years have shaped the way I look at life. The 500 students I have had in and out of my life and my classroom for the past four years are cemented in my heart. I carry them with me as a example of why I am on earth--to love people.


Caitlin Cavallaro said...

Love this! Such a great way to think about it - teaching is so much more than a fancy classroom with all the bells and whistles - it's loving those babies, fiercely, because they are the ones who need it most! What will you be doing next year??

Whitney H said...

No matter what you do next, you're going to be fabulous at it. It takes a lot to be as amazing of a teacher as you have been over the past few years. I can see it in the way that you students interact with you! If you put half as much passion into your next position as you have put into teaching, you're going to be running the place in about a month.

Miss you already, friend.

Lindsay @ Trial By Sapphire said...

Four years of loving on people, and you know what? You can still do that with the next job you do. :) Keep exuding love, my dear.

KarenB said...

I am so glad that I could call u a coworker for two of those years and I am super excited and grateful that you were one of the teachers that lived on my daughter this year. Lord knows she needed it. You will be missed.

The Queen said...

I love this. And you! And even the tears that are coming out of my eyes. Proud of you and happy bc all of this is how I feel about ALL of y'all!