I started the school year alone, in a grade I hated, at a school with problems. It was my only option. No other school wanted me and I was thrown in a week before the kids arrived.
At the end of my first day I cried from the moment I sat down in my car until I fell asleep. I could hear my parents wondering downstairs if I would even go in the next day. That went on every day for a week. My parents, who never let me quit a thing in my life, told me they would support my decision to quit. After that first week, I cut it down to every other day for the next month; then about once a week. By fall break, I had managed to make most of myself numb to it all.
I knew I couldn’t leave. Mrs. K. had put too much on the line for me to just up and leave. I owed it to a group of kids whos’ families up and leave whenever they choose, to stay put. I made it through countless days telling myself I only had to do it for a year. I could do 180 days (179 of you remember my one sick day). I even applied for another job… I spent almost the whole year wanting to be somewhere else. I spent the whole year squatting in a room that didn’t feel like it was really mine. I didn’t move the furniture much. I barely moved the desks.
Most people would, at this point, mention how they wish they hadn’t spent a year moping. I don’t regret it. I really, actually don’t.
The numb started going away little by little. It was gradual and I didn’t notice it. I did notice the little bits of kindness that the others teachers showed me day after day. I couldn’t possibly have been fun to be around during that time but everyone kept me feeling like I belonged.
Week days ending in Mexican food, Fridays laughing with so many good people, after hours laps around the school, watching sports, and holding babies… I ended up falling in love with my job, with my school, with the ridiculous weirdos I work with.
Today was my first last day. Yesterday, I fell apart. The people around me stood up. They did what amazing people do and I did show up for work today. I spent the day being loved by my kiddos and thanking my amazing role models.
Two or three of my students smiled ear to ear over their goofy award I gave them. I talked to them about making good choices and being ready for fifth grade. One student I fought with, scolded, took recess from, took to the office, who flipped me off approximately 9,000 times throughout the year, cried when I talked to them. The day ended with me tearing up holding some perfect gifts and being surrounded by my perfect friends.
I know now that as teachers, we get into teaching for the kids but we stay because of the teachers.
Your first year in the job, you learn something new every day. Every day this year, I learned that nothing is more important than the good people who smother you with love even when you know you are being hard to love.
Love is post-its. Love is peach-os. It doesn’t let you fall without being there to help you back up. It’s there when you need it most and it’s still there when you think you can do it alone. Love is what makes us happy.
I know I’m not going to love every day of this job. I’m just not. I won’t say it’s my dream job because it’s not. I will say, I found my dream team. The perfect group of crazies, weirdos, nerds, and wackos make it worth the shouting, office visits, flip offs, lies, tattling, and throwing things.
If you can find your dream team, do. Stay with it. It’s worth it. 179 days have gone by since the first time I thought about quitting. I’ve wanted to almost every day since, sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve realized that the kids are why I do this, the teachers are the reason I stay.