Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stay Gold, Mrs. Laniel, Stay Gold.

I've said this before, and I'll say it until I retire: 
Teaching is not for the meek.

I barely made it through my 7th year of teaching--and I mean barely.  
Thanks to John Elway, #7 is my favorite number, so I felt hopeful about this 
year and all it held for me. But ole #7 almost let me down this year.
 I'm an optimist by nature but my optimism was a bit touch and go this year. 
And even if it's "normal" to say this, I feel like I can say with confidence that I struggled this year more than I thought I would. I think the difference between this year and the others is that the "energy sucking" kids came in droves...and they brought their parents with them. 
I had a way more difficult time seeing the diamonds in the rough and this threw me off.
I captured my thoughts about this way back in September, and honestly? 
This year was a bit more dead Mockingjay than  it was #inspire
I'm a person that gives someone the benefit of the doubt that they will find their way despite making poor choices. In teaching,  I truly believe that kids can "get it together" and even learn from their mistakes! Naive or not, I truly think ALL kids are capable of making good choices, so when they don't I either take it personally or shut down. Both happened to me this year and I spun into some depression where I felt like I truly wasn't sure if I was gonna make it through this teaching gig. 
It's extremely possible that I have typed those very words in years past but there was something extreme about this group of kids and the ways they displayed "regular" middle school angst that felt like they {and their parents!} were preying on everything good I know of kids and teaching. It felt like I had been beaten down to the point of wanting to run away and not fight back.
By December, I was over it.
 WAY over it. 
Then came the Christmas Miracle.
 Four of our "high rollers" {dead Mockingjay kid included!} moved. 
Sweet baby Jesus! 
I couldn't contain my excitement!
Image result for elf santa i know him
And although I felt profound relief at the start of the new semester, I still wasn't myself and I still had a difficult time embracing who was in front of me.  
was left licking my wounds but I knew I had to find my balance again if I was going to make it. I knew I had to get back to my roots and try to regain my perspective so I could reignite my hope that I am supposed to do this. A few of my roots included being with my best friends. I have some very large-eared friends who have listened to me rant, cry, question, worry, obsess, cry, rant and cry some more!
I feel especially grateful for my happy hour buddies that listened to me in person.  
{You know who you are!}

The amount of support you gave me over chili-cheese fries and margaritas is overwhelming.
Thank you for helping me feel known and heard.

The other part of my roots was to be consistent in what I know to do as a teacher. I needed to maintain my classroom environment where my kids know that integrity, responsibility and respect are a part of our classroom culture and that I was for them, not against them.

In early May {I know! May!}, I was still on the fence about this year when I walked into my classroom and saw this:

This wonderful little note left by a student made me cry. 
{In a good way! Finally!}
It felt like all the things I try to do in my job were captured here. 
It gave me hope that I could make it to May 27th alive and well. 
And here I am.
I did it. 

I came into the last day feeling like I fought my way through the dead Mockingjay days with integrity and that on most days I tried to give these students my best self.
When the bell rang at 3:05, I got this note from a student that confirmed that I am 
indeed alive and well:
Folks, for someone to love reading, writing AND Ponyboy Curtis 
PROVES that my work here is done. :)
 This 7th year of teaching taught me that I am stronger than I think.
It taught me that kids can teach me a lot about myself.
It taught me that my efforts are worth it.
It taught me that sometimes #inspire does not feel as present as dead Mockingjay, but it's what wins in the end and it's what I know to do. 
 It taught me that I will absolutely cherish my summer because I need to be replenished.
It taught me that I can't do this alone--and that I don't have to.
It taught me to Stay gold, Mrs. Laniel, stay gold.
 Image result for keep calm and stay gold

1 comment:

  1. Oh my--that whiteboard note made ME cry. What a perfect ending to your year. Happy 7th to a fabulous teacher!