I had two teaching jobs this year. It’s been a wild ride, but I made it. Some days I didn’t think I would, but miraculously, I did. I’m done. I taught, loved and laughed with my 161. Not always well, not always gracefully or skillfully, but I did it.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about teaching this year:
1. It is hard. Just the sheer amount of running around I had to do all day was utterly exhausting. The driving, the walking up and down the halls (and stairs, in the case of my afternoon school), the sitting down in tiny chairs, standing up from tiny chairs, sitting on the carpet, tying shoes, etc, it was all tiring. Most nights I’d be in bed by 9:00pm (and only because any time before that is not socially acceptable).
2. It is hard. I have so many different kids in my class with a variety of different needs. I had to teach lessons that would engage my energetic boys, but wouldn’t terrify a few of my terribly shy students. I had to support several students who can’t write or verbalize their thoughts, while encouraging my kids with little confidence, telling my kids with little attention spans to keep working, and challenging my top students to reach even further. All at the same time.
3. It is hard. I had behaviours to deal with. I had a hisser, a thrower, a wanderer, whiners, kids who talk constantly, a nose picker (to the extreme), a pants pee-er, a pants pooper, a kicker, a slapper and a BUNCH of criers. Some days I didn’t even get to the teaching part because I was too busy dealing with all of the stuff that gets in the way.
4. It is hard. I had to hold the emotions and burdens of the children I encountered every day. From children in foster care, children from broken families, children dealing with mental illness or learning disabilities, children dealing with ill family members, children with medical issues and children with mothers and fathers who have no desire to ever see them – my heart was heavy on a regular basis.
5. It is hard. I had two different work places and two different sets of bosses and two different sets of co-workers to figure out. There are underlying hurts, and grudges that I wasn’t aware of, there are big personalities to navigate, unspoken rules to follow and lots of intermingling histories at play. These dynamics left me baffled most weeks.
6. It is hard. I got sick. Very sick. A lot. One of the low points in the year involved a parent-teacher interview, some vomit, and a picture that is more than likely circulating around India. We’ll just leave it at that.
7. It is hard. The government was very…shall we say “active” this year, and it resulted in a ton of extra stress and uncertainty. It didn’t work in my favour (at ALL) and long story short, I was in my boss’ office almost every day trying to figure out the mess that is my career. Another long story short, my boss is awesome (but I’ll still be back to substitute teaching in the fall).
8. It is hard. By the time I got finished with everything, there was very little time (or energy) in the day to do anything else. I was accused of “hermiting” in my apartment. It’s a very true statement, but I also think it was absolutely necessary. I still have a very tight knit community of people who love me and cheer for me. But I discovered that in order to give my best to them, my family, and the kids in my life, I had to take time by myself in my very quiet apartment to recharge my batteries. I learned to cherish my alone time.
9. It was worth it. All of the stress, the heartache, the exhaustion, the work, the lack of social life, the illness – it was all worth it. I got to work with and for some incredible people that I now consider to be very dear friends. I got to be a huge part of the lives of some amazing tiny people. I learned a lot. It was hard, but it was worth it.