4 weeks from today, I will be sitting on my couch about this time, exhausted from my first day back with kiddos. I am getting excited about it, which is a good sign. Last year was such an interesting, frustrating, sad, yet an educational year. I wondered in January and February if I was going to make it, and I did. I learned a lot about myself as well as others. I have come out of the last year a stronger person and hopefully that will lead me to be a better teacher.
I have always taught with the same teacher. For 18 years, we went through it all together. Planning, collaborating, teaching, complaining - we did it together. Last year, she didn't work, so I lost that. I had always worried about losing my teaching friend, so I wasn't sure how the year was going to go. Looking back, I survived. Not only did I survive, I kind of liked it. Doesn't that sound horrible? But I did! My team isn't the most collaborative out there. There are issues from before we got to the school that have never been resolved and never will be resolved. EVER. I know that and accept it, but it doesn't mean I like it. My friend and I have always done everything together and the other 2 teachers who are very set in their ways do their own things. Again, it may not be great, but we now how to work to keep the peace. This last year, with it being just me (and a handful of subs that I planned for for 3 months), I felt a freedom I hadn't felt in a long time. I felt like I could do what I want and wasn't questioned by my friend as to what I am doing, can I give her copies or materials or made to feel like it was too hard (I mean, we do need to challenge our kids, right?). I was responsible for myself (after the end of October anyway) and there was some sort of satisfaction knowing it was me alone that did it all.
Don't think this last year was easy - it was harder than heck! I kept 2 classes going for 3 months, which really wore me down, only I didn't see it. I wanted to be Superwoman and do it all for everyone and it really wore me down. Looking back, it really started to affect me in November, but I didn't see the full effects until January and February. I felt defeated with my class (behavior issues, lack of administrator support and new kid after new kid walking in my door, each one further behind than the one before) and I felt undervalued by my administrator. I still smiled, tried to do my job to the best of my abilities, but I know now that I wasn't doing either of those things. I remember my fabulous Thanksgiving unit that wasn't. It was an awful week and I went home crying each night. I remember wanting to do a cute art project for Christmas for the parents, but I didn't have the heart to put so much time and effort into it. I remember being so happy that we were on break. I cried when I had to go back to work. None of that is good. I was not happy in January and February and even told my hubby that I needed a new job. I wanted to see what else I could do with my degree. I spent hours on the internet looking for jobs that didn't involve teaching kids, but still made a decent income - there weren't any. I was so sad that I spent several nights crying myself to sleep. It was bad.
But then, things changed. I can't pinpoint it, but it changed. The last 3 months weren't the easiest, but I was happy again. I had fun with my kids. I did what I wanted (I still followed standards) and didn't worry about what others said or did. I embraced the crazy that was my class and enjoyed the last bit of the year. I wasn't sad when the year ended, but by then, the exhaustion has set in and we are all happy that summer vacation is here!
I've always felt I was born to be a teacher. I truly believe it. I may not be the Pinterest-worthy, make millions off of TPT, love everyone and everyone loves me teacher, but I am a good teacher. I know that. I am here for the kids in my class and work hard to teach them. I will fight for my students when I feel it needs to be done and I will cause problems when they need to be caused. I will do what I think is best for my kids, even if others don't think "my way" is the right way (because it isn't theirs).
This summer, I haven't focused on school. I have done more this week than any weeks combined, but I did feel like I needed to make some headway so I am not panicked come August. We have an "extra" week off this year, only due to the calendar we voted on. I will, like always, work in my classroom the week before school starts and get everything ready. I have my yearly plan done, which has made me excited for the new year. I have some new things in the works which make me excited for the new year. Knowing I did this all on my own has made me excited for the new year. Oh, all the Amazon boxes have also helped me get excited for the new year! I know it won't be easy, but it's a chance for a fresh start with a new bunch of kiddos and a chance to see how far they can go!