My 24th year of teaching draws to a close on Monday after I complete the permanent record folders. This 24th year has ended in the most peculiar of ways due to that stinkin’ virus! Over the past 10 days, I’ve been pondering the past year and grieving the loss of my final 9-weeks with my 19 kiddos. While packing up my classroom, I found notes from some of my kiddos declaring me “the best teacher in the world” and “the best teacher I ever had” and I smiled.
My room is packed up for summer, but this week…I even packed up the closet & cabinet contents. I witnessed dust MONSTERS rolling out from under tables where boxes of LLI materials were stored until needed. I look at shelves of “stuff” and think….”Maybe I should take the time to go through each item.”
I decided that next fall….I wanted a “fresh” look in my classroom. So, I’m ditching my Peanuts decor (giving them to a colleague who’s also a Peanuts fan) for something new. I’m going through ALL my stuff (I’m not a fan of that word, but it works in this case). Think of it as “spring cleaning” my classroom…
Guess what! I turn 50 in 5 1/2 weeks! Some people dread it, but I don’t. I see it as a celebration. I’m even having a friend make a t-shirt for me to announce that I’ve been blessed by God for 50 years. During school, I told my kiddos “I turn a half a century old this summer”, and they had to figure out what that meant. One said, “500?” Nope….not going to happen.
Often, when people hit milestone birthdays of 40 and higher or go into retirement, they make a big purchase or a big change. I’ve heard of people buying that convertible sports car they always wanted but were too sensible to buy while raising their children. Others have undergone some sort of plastic surgery to fight the look of their age. Me? I decided to act on another “one day I’d like to….” thought.
To understand….we need to journey to the past….my past. The year was 1989, and I was assigned to Jefferson County Elementary for a practicum in 4th grade with Mrs. Word. She was great. The experience was wonderful. In fact, I requested that I do my student teaching with her as I enjoyed it that much. However, her mother was having health problems, so I was moved to 5th grade with the mother of one of my friends. It was wonderful as well. I enjoyed 5th grade, but I told myself I wanted to teach 4th grade.
Then, graduation took place and substituting began. I was in so many grades, in so many schools, and in so many classes. I was reaffirmed to NOT be called to kindergarten (God bless those teachers!). As my subbing continued (for four LONG years), I realized that 3rd & 4th grades were the two I enjoyed the most. Finally, in August of 1996, five wonderful 3rd grade teachers and the others on the interview committee chose me to be the sixth third grade classroom. I’ve been in 3rd grade ever since.
I’ve enjoyed (almost) every single year. Some of them have been quite challenging due to behavior issues. Some of them have had quite a few academic hurdles to jump. Others have had 18-25 third graders who have gelled into a wonderfully cohesive team/family/class. Each of those years have been a part of my path to this point, and they’ve helped mold me into a stronger teacher (At least I hope so…).
Several times over the past ten years, when there has been an opening in 4th grade, I’ve pondered, prayed, and sometimes fretted over whether I would be moved or if I should offer to move. This spring, it started again. I was “this close” to asking to move, but I talked myself out of it. Then, due to a couple teacher-moves by the administration, there was another opening in 4th grade. Again, the thoughts filled my brain, and then they once again started invading my dreams.
Finally, I came to the point that I thought, “I obviously have wanted to teach 4th grade, so if I offer….the ball is in their court.” I figured if they agreed to move me, then, God willing, I would conclude the final decade or more of my teaching career in 4th grade. If they decide to keep me in 3rd grade, then I can let it go and trust that I was simply “made” for 3rd grade.
I shared my interest & willingness to change teaching assignments and waited…..and waited….and waited.
Okay, to be honest, it took less than two weeks, but it seemed like an eternity. You see….I’m not a big fan of change. I like planning. I like structure. However, earlier this week, my building principal came in to let me know that they had decided to let me go to 4th. I’ve always joked to my outgoing third graders that I’ve yet to graduate from 3rd grade, but now….I can say I’ve finally been promoted! Ha.
For someone who’s not a fan of change, this is a big deal. For a person who loves teaching, this is a great opportunity. For a lady turning 50, this is a kick-start to re-energize my teaching. I’m excited. I’m overwhelmed. I’m eager
Yet, for now…I’m tired….and looking forward to reading as much as I want, finishing a picture book, and writing some of the other four books I’ve started. As I do so, I will hope (and pray) that Covid-19 will diminish, a vaccine will be created, and the joy of my classroom can begin anew….with my next class, in a new grade, in a different hall, and not in Room 302….