I’m sitting in my classroom right now, typing into a blank email screen. My desks are stacked along the wall, the chairs awkwardly tilting atop one another. Everything has been scrubbed, mountains of recycling taken away, and there is nothing left to do. Maybe that’s incorrect, I could be more industrious like some of the teachers down the hall that have torn apart their classrooms to implement new organization systems or started on next year’s copies.
I prefer to just sit here and take it all in. I cannot help but think back to what my room looked like on the very first day that I arrived last summer. Only desks and chairs, nothing else. No additional furniture, nothing on the walls, a blank canvass. Now, bulletin boards announce a space for students to brag. Our small library overflows with books and Machu Picchu hangs proudly in front of the timeout space, inviting angry students to sit and trace the buildings with their fingers, calmer. The empty room is now a lived in home.
I remember the pride of ownership I felt in decorating this home, walking around barefoot as I hung the butcher paper and decided where the newly bought furniture would go. Now I’d never walk barefoot in my classroom. I know what my floors have been through.
There was a time this year when I did not think I would survive. I counted the days and weeks in order to make it through. I’d find myself still at school 11+ hours after arriving, straightening out the desks, rearranging, trapped in my own OCD. If nothing else, this year has cured me of that. Even sitting here now, I find myself not caring that some of my borders are coming undone or that some of my piles aren’t perfectly organized. I’ve realized that in order to be a good teacher, I have to give myself breaks.
I earned this break.
Sure there was that one kid today who got under my skin by saying her mom didn’t want me to be her teacher again next year, but there are also kids that wrote me little notes of love and sang me little songs of praise.
“Shhh… Ready… 1-2-3… Mrs. M you’re the best teacher ever!”
Or, my selfish favorite of the day:
“Mrs. M., my mom said she’s happy to make you enchiladas because I got good grades on my report card!”
The enchiladas were delicious.
Until this very moment, I’ve managed not to cry, but I feel the tears, they’re finally here.
I avoided becoming a teacher for a few years after graduation because, among other concerns, I was scared that I would not be perfect at it. I’m so grateful that I faced my fear. Yes, teaching is hard, much harder than I ever expected, but it is also deeply satisfying. Surprisingly, I don’t mind my imperfections nearly as much as I thought I would. Mostly, I’m just proud that I didn’t give up.