it's what i do

When I got home from work today I had a few things to do online so I clicked over to facebook. Status after status, I read things like: "YAY! I don't have to go to work again for another 2 and 1/2 days!" or "FINALLY…the weekend."

Now, don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy my weekends-- the time to sleep in, relax, wear sweats, catch up on cleaning and tv shows and time with Brent. But I don't ever DREAD going back to work on Monday. Even though I still view getting out of bed in the morning as THE WORST THING EVER [I know, I know..."You're gonna have to get over that in about 4.5 months..."], once I'm up and moving, I really don't ever mind going to work. I love seeing my students and interacting with them daily. I just realized too that I haven't written about teaching in awhile, but I used to all the time [click here and read away to see that I'm telling the truth!]. Well, despite my lack of writing about, I still am thoroughly loving it.

We are currently getting ready to start reading To Kill a Mockingbird in LA II, which just happens to be my FAVORITE BOOK EVER! So I'm really looking forward to teaching it again.
And my LA III kids are writing short stories, and although that leaves me with hours to grade, they are always a treat when I get to see the creativity of my students.

Three and a half years ago I was exhausted and wondering if I could really pull off being a teacher. I was living in a city in which I still knew almost no one, teaching an entire section of students with LD "hits" in reading and writing, completely the worst teaching internship program every created [which required FIFTY out of classroom hours and like 10 observations which required three meetings PER observation…ugh…still makes me mad], still figuring out marriage, and living hours and hours from "home." Every day I woke up I had to convince myself that things would get better and that I just needed to keep plodding on. I would say to myself, Kels, you love what you do. Everything is going to click soon. Don't kill your students today. And then I would pray, Lord, give me extra patience to get through today.

I knew that the overwhelming "stuff" would come, which is why I wrote myself a letter a few weeks before that first year started. I have often returned to this letter when I need a little reminder:

Dear Kelsey,

I am writing this so that you remember what it is like to be passionate about your job. I am writing this so that you remember the rush you felt when you walked into your classroom for the very first time.

You will, unfortunately, be used and manipulated, and you will be tested by students who want to get a step ahead, but when they look back in 30 years they will remember most how you responded to their efforts. Remember your classes from college-- sitting around tables, brimming with excitement when you discovered a new teaching method that worked. Getting that report back after student teaching that said, "I feel like you've been at this for years."

Don't forget this is your dream. Don't forget the imaginary class you used to teach in your bedroom--wind whistling through your missing teeth as you read Dr. Seuss to stuffed animals.
Don't forget this is your gift. The Lord has blessed you with the abilities to control a classroom and hold students' attention; to bury these gifts would be a shame. Don't forget the notes you received from your Seniors when you finished student teaching, or the money your freshman raised for your move to Kentucky. Don't forget what it felt like to leave those students and know you had given them 100%.

You will get tired. You will get sick of the routine...but so will your students, and they are looking to you to see if you will break this time. Don't break. Let them know you need their support as much as they need yours. Let them know that you expect the world from them...and don't ever stop believing that they will give you anything less.

Don't forget the time everyone around you was confused about the direction they were headed; about what career they would land........and then remember that you've always known-- that "I am a teacher" comes as easily to you as your name.

When papers stack up to be graded, write each comment with compassion, like you always said you would. Your students will read your scribbled writing in purple, "Be sure to pick past/present tense and stick with it throughout-- it will make this beautiful story even stronger." And they will hear in those words, "Someone still is taking the time to believe in you."

Remember to wear comfortable shoes because you need to be actively moving about your classroom all day.

When at first they don't understand Shakespeare, stick with it and remember the note you received from jock Jake's mom that said he was coming home talking about Romeo and Juliet.

Remember your "mission statement" in college that you wrote saying you will "Teach students, not subjects." Remember your college's vision for "Teacher as a Servant,"---that you aren't doing your job completely unless your students feel as if they are being served. Remember that Jesus was a great teacher. Remember to learn from your students. They have so much to teach you-- don't become too proud and forget this.

Above all remember that you love what you do. And remember that nothing done in love is ever wasted.


So today when I read what others were saying about their jobs I was reminded just how blessed I am to have a career that I love to do. I was reminded of this letter I wrote myself over 4 years ago. I was reminded of how far I've come. I was reminded, once again, that nothing done in love is ever wasted and that my students notice.

Have a great weekend! :-) [And the 19 week baby bump will be appearing on a blog near you soon]


ashley mcfee said...

I think in 4.5 months, you will LOVE getting out of bed. Hate it all you want until then!

Jenn Crase said...

And now look back at how many memories (that we reference on almost a daily basis like our teaching bible) we have from those two years! Two of the best years of my career!