On the road back to me

I wrote this one last week during my conference period while I was subbing at a nearby middle school.  I’ve had some eye-opening experiences lately when it comes to subbing.

So, I’ve gone back into the classroom.  Over the last two weeks, I’ve subbed four times.  Doesn’t sound like a lot, I know.  But I wanted to make sure I waded in slowly after what I went through.  I couldn’t justify diving in headfirst.  That’s a sure-fire way to hit rock bottom again, and fast.

Four days.  Three of which, surprisingly, have been at the middle school level, which I’d all but sworn off of.  But four days is all it’s taken to restore my faith.  Faith in myself.  Faith in my abilities and knowledge as a teacher.  Faith that I’ve made the right choices for my life.

I met with the principal of the school I was at today (Thursday).  He’s a former teacher of mine, a favorite former teacher.  We talked briefly about what I went through, and also about how this school is different from the one I was at before.  He told me all about the new approach the school is taking to teaching language arts, and for the first time since moving back to Austin, I felt excited.  I felt excited about teaching kids through novels, about truly developing students’ unique writing styles and steering clear of formulas.  Kids are so creative, they’ve got insane (in a good way) imaginations that so often go unexplored because teachers don’t want to push the boundaries.  We’re too afraid they’ll fail.  Why not just stick with the kinds of thinks we know will be on the test?  But if we let them explore, experiment, delve deep and really play with language and expressing themselves — that is when we get something truly great.

I like being excited about teaching.  I like being excited about expanding horizons, introducing people to new things, seeing the light bulb go on when something new or difficult or interesting clicks.  I like interacting with students — they’re clever, sharp, witty, brighter than they’re given credit for.  I learn something new from students on a daily basis, and I love that.

This is what I want to do.  It’s what I need to do.  In the last week, I’ve turned down two job offers, and that’s made me very nervous.  I couldn’t believe I was turning down and steady paycheck and benefits for the chance that this might be what I want to do, for a definitely-not-guaranteed teaching job next school year.

But now I know.  This is me.  Always has been.


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