I made a huge decision to step down from my district job and join the ranks of the the hardest working people I know...teachers. It had been 11 long years since I had my own class of 20-28 students. In those 11 years I can proudly say that I was very close to the classroom and chose to be that way. Any chance that I could get to work with teachers, I did. Any chance of going and working consecutively in classrooms, you would see me there. In fact, I could probably count on my hand the number of times that I was physically at my work desk last year. You would rarely see me there because I was taught (by a great leader named Cathie Robinson) that an instructional specialist must be about serving those who serve the most. She taught me to always work along side teachers every minute of every day. I just happened to love doing that, so it was up my alley.
The last two years of my district job, I was called into numerous meetings. Even though I longed to be on campuses full time, there were times, more often than not, that I was called back to attend meetings and such. My heart tugged and pulled me strongly toward the direction of the campus and classroom. I listened attentively and complied. I remember facilitating a new teacher orientation meeting in August of the previous year. I envied those new teachers and I told them, "You are the luckiest people on the world. You get to work with kids everyday." That's when I truly realized that I had to move back to the classroom and the campus.
Now I have been in the classroom full time since August 23rd. I have a class of 21 wonderful students. From day one, I knew that this was the best place for me. I asked myself, "Why did you ever leave in the first place?" There were no second thoughts or lamenting my decision in the least.
I was ecstatic to be with such wonderful young minds, so full of potential.
But then the paperwork mounted, lesson plans were due, reports needed to be run, dismissal tags had to be handed out, and progress reports were to be completed. I became sick a few times too many. I never seemed to get well. I swallowed a ton of antibiotics. (The pharmacy knows my car when I visit.) I also was in the emergency room a twice and had visits to my doctor since August. My head was spinning!
What do I think now? After all of the stress and calls upon my time? I wouldn't trade it for any district job. I love what I do. I am the luckiest person on the face of this earth. I get to work with kids everyday. I get to work with kids who tell me not to drink coffee because it will bother my stomach. I get to work with kids who make me laugh and cry.(I cried because their writing was so exceptional and inspiring.) I get to work with kids who go home and have ludic reading with their parents. I get to work with kids who during a 10 minute free writing time ask me, "Can we write a poem?" I say, "Of course, you are the writer, you decide." Then I hears the sounds of YES! fill the room. I get to work with students who beg me daily for Ludic Reading and ask me, "What did you write last night? Did you write another poem or story?" I get to work with brilliant minds who long to create blogs and videos. I get to work with kids who jump up and down with excitement when Diary of a Whimpy Kid Old School has been delivered or make me have book lotteries because everyone wants to read Crenshaw and any book I recommend. I get to work with such excited learners who during fire drills ask if they can bring a book or their journals so not to lose any time. They are the reason!
I love my school. I love the people that I work along side. The team that I am a part of are so very fun and down to earth. They are one devoted group of teachers that surrender so much of their time for the good of our students. They are to be commended for their work ethic and constant care of the students. I would have no problem putting my daughter in any of their classrooms. They are class personified.
The administrators with whom I work are first class. They want what is best for all students. They work hard, very hard. I see them when I come in the morning, when it is dark. I say good evening to them, as I drive home in the darkness. They really care about each person on the campus. I can have had some very meaningful and professional conversations. (The problem is that I don't always have the time to have more of these great conversations.) They make me feel at home and that I could make a contribution.
Beyond the tangibles, there are many intangibles. If I am sick, they look after me and make sure I am doing okay. They are compassionate and I think see me as a human being first, rather than just an employee. I feel a part of the school community from the administrators, my team of teachers, other teachers and office staff and Don Jorge the custodian. He always is there every morning with a buenos dias and como estas. I see him during my cafeteria duty with another como estas as he slaps high fives with the students after they dump their lunch tray. Feels like home.
It is November. December is knocking on my door. I can say that things have slowed down for me more and I need to take a breath and drink in the beauty of my situation. I thank the good Lord for bringing me to Westwood. He knows what is best for me. For that, I am truly grateful!