Today is the 4th snow day I've had in 8 days. I have been productive, I've even worked out, AND I went out for coffee with a new "gal pal" and it was wonderful.
However, in the absence of teaching I have realized this: I love my job.
I just went back and read some posts that I wrote during the fall of 2008. I had just moved, just gotten married, just started a new job, and the pressure was caving in on me. I questioned so much about my life at that point, and especially about my career choice. This was such a hard battle for me, as I had wanted to teach for so long. I had ached to have a classroom and students of my own, and when the time came, it was too much.
The first year of teaching is difficult. So many teachers had told me this before but hadn't been able to really pinpoint why. For me it was difficult, not because I didn't like teaching, but because of all the other "stuff." These included but were not limited to: new state curriculum, figuring out how to develop appropriate relationships with students, staff, administrators, figuring out how to complete professional development hours, surviving the internship from hell [aka KTIP], and on top of that, figuring out all the little details that people assume you know: how does the copy machine work, is it really okay to send kids to work in the hallway, who do I call if a student's locker is jammed, where is my bathroom, where do I eat lunch, where do I heat up my lunch?!.... etc etc etc. That is what I would tell a first year teacher.
So being able to put all of that behind me this year I have been able to focus more on my job...my career...my passion. And I realize I love it.
I love walking into my classroom every morning and being greeted by a cup of coffee on my desk from a co-worker [who knows that I like french vanilla creamer]. I love talking to the two girls that aide for me in the morning. I love thinking about the day's lesson and trying to figure out ways to make it more fun and engaging. I love running to a co-workers room or sending them a quick email to warn them that one of the students is particularly gasy today! But more than all those things...I love greeting my students at the door. I love joking with them and writing with them. I love playing review games with them and realizing that they have learned something. I love when another teacher tells me that during his lesson a particularly low level student raised his hand and said, "Well that's irony, isn't it?!" I love making my students laugh, or when my students make me laugh. I love that when a student shares something awkward or deep or otherwise uncomfortable that I've created such a classroom environment that students don't snicker or shy away in weirdness but rather listen intently, and offer praise at the courage of a young writer.
I've learned that I can bring so much to my classroom: I can bring patience and light and joy and compassion. Or I can bring crabbiness, disappointment, and defeat. It is my choice everyday. And that is scary and empowering and humbling. I can love with the love Christ gives me.
I can love the one kid who is loved no where else. I can encourage the one girl who is encouraged no where else. I can notice a haircut or new braces or new shoes and brighten someone's day. It is those simple little things that make my job so rewarding. Sure, I love when my kids have written something beautiful or read a passage flawlessly, but more than that I love seeing them enter my classroom feeling safe, and do something beautiful for another student or love someone else flawlessly in what would otherwise be an ugly moment.
I know tomorrow [maybe? more snow?] when I return and I say, "Man I missed you guys!" That some will roll their eyes sarcastically, some will still be asleep, and some will only laugh. But some will say, "I missed you too!" and others will secretly think that.
I have felt since moving to Louisville that I lacked real community; authentic community. And I know that I need my own peers and other faithful women to truly find this, but for so long I had missed the simple truth: that every day in my classroom, I have community. We have inside jokes, we share our struggles and pains through writing, we grow as people, and in some weird and bumbling sort of way we love each other.
And for these reasons I love my job.