Teaching is a wonderful profession. I realized today that I am getting ready to complete my 8th year! I never thought I was going to make it past my first year but I did....and each year I keep coming back. Not only have I taught for 8 years....but I have only ever taught in a self-contained classroom ....teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. WOW! If someone would have told me in my early 20's that is what I would be doing with my life I would have laughed at them. I certainly never saw this as my path....but as I have learned time and time again.. that is the beauty about life it takes you down paths you never would have envisioned for yourself. Truth is I love my job ~ yes I have some crazy days....and more than once I have heard from other teachers ... " I don't know how you do it"...... and sometimes I am not sure how I do it either. I know that I adore my students....I know that I learn as much from them as they learn from me......I know they make me laugh and make me see life through a different lens....I know that I can experience a range of emotions from happy to sad and everything in between all within one day...I know that I am so fiercely proud of them and their accomplishments no matter the size.....I know I admire them.....their uniqueness...their compassion....their ability to be open to all experiences and people. Yes I can truly say I love getting up and going to work.....always have......and I think I am pretty good at this teaching thing too! :)
The funny thing about being a teacher and working in a school is the ebb and flow of the year. I need to start collecting data on it. It is truly amazing the levels of anxiety how there are peaks and valleys throughout the year. Right now we are heading into the transition time......school will be ending in 6 weeks and now is the time all the "major" decisions are getting made. I have to say even after 8 years this is by far the most difficult time of the year for me. I believe it is for many teachers. You would think after awhile you would get use to this time of year...all the change....many times all the uncertainty. I have to say for me it hasn't gotten easier. I cringe when we start talking new student placement for next year. Although up here I have more input than in my last district about student placement.....I still don't hold the trump card! Therefore I always end up with a student or two who just shouldn't be or don't fit in the program.......but what does that mean?? Aren't we suppose to educate all children...who am I to say they need to arrive in a nice neat package. I realized today that the program I teach is changing......and I can kick, scream and yell all I want........but it will still change. Due to budget cuts and lack of funding...we have no money for new programs so we have to change and expand existing ones. That is the reality...and even though we know it is not ideal it is our only option. It makes one feel defeated....and yet I know it will all work out next year...I know this because it always does. We adjust and adapt......we will arrive next year with new found energy and optimism...a fresh start....positive attitude......as teachers this is what we do.
For now......it is that difficult time. An ending...maybe that is why it is so hard. It will be time to say goodbye to many amazing teachers...some who are leaving because of where their life journey is taking them and some because we just can't keep them with the new budget. On some levels an ending is good.....it means there will be a beginning. But endings are tough.......knowing that the staff will change next year......colleagues that you have made friendships won't be coming back........the lunch group will be made up of different people ( yes we teachers care deeply about this) the classroom community that you have built with your students......the unknown challenges that will come the following year...many, many factors. Maybe that is why it is so hard...so many unknowns. I truly hope in the coming years that this time of year gets easier for me......that I stop having so much anxiety about the "unknowns" of next year and trust that I have what it takes inside of me to handle all that comes my way. That I will become relaxed...and at peace with myself...confident and emotionally neutral. I will show up and do the best I know how to do with what I have been given and taught....and release the need to determine how things "should" be.
I guess I have my work cut out for me......better get started! :)
(picture is from the Japanese gardens in Portland, OR)