Over the summer, I hung up my teacher identity and gave myself space for everything else. Travel, writing, life. Today marks the return of teaching, as I sit typing at our teacher retreat up in Tahoe, where we bond and gain strength for the year ahead. I’ll be honest, I was dreading this shift, but just like the change in seasons, it was inevitable. Now, it’s time to make the best of it.
The good news is that the retreat works. It reminds me why I teach. We always begin the same way, by reflecting on why we make so many sacrifices for the children we serve.
This time, my principal put up two pictures. Of the 400+ students at our school, she chose one of mine. He was my biggest challenge, but he also stole my heart. Looking at his mischievous, smiling face, I was asked to reflect on what his picture means to me in front of the group. I could hardly hold back tears. This student makes me feel proud to be a teacher, proud that I have not given up when it has gotten hard. After all, in just ten short years, he has had it much harder than I can put into words here. Harder than I will ever truly understand, I’m sure. But, since I first met him last August, he has grown, and so have I.
I’m reinvigorated, maybe even ready for the students to return next week. One of the best things about my job is that I get to loop with the same kids for two years, so as they move from fourth to fifth grade, so do I. This makes me happy because that student will be mine again. I’ll get to watch him grow some more and I’m sure he’ll teach me more about patience in the process. He’ll test me and I’ll test him. Together we’ll get better at school and life.
He is why I teach.