Time flies they say. Time did fly, but I remember almost every moment. I started the year scared out of my mind. My degree was Child Development and Family Studies, which taught me birth-kindergarten teaching approaches. So of course, this girl accepts a third grade teaching position. Head smack. Oh and my license was for NC, so I had to fulfill all the requirements for a teaching license in VA—the hardest state to get licensure in.
I’m pretty sure I was shaking every step of the way. I’ve always chased what would challenge me the most and this was my Mount Everest. Also, for those of you who think teaching isn’t very hard, you tell me how to teach a child to make mixed fractions to improper or to understand that drawing a conclusion does not mean LITERALLY drawing a conclusion. Trust me, it’s not easy.
I remember being scared to meet the parents and making a huge script for the first day of school. Making calendar cards, nametags, and a Super Improver wall. Up until December, I worked constantly from 7:30 A.M. until 5:30 P.M. at the school. Then I would take work home with me to grade or to research new centers, videos, PowerPoints, and fun activities. This continued all the way until mid-May when our end-of-the-year tests were finally over. I was terrified I would make a mistake and be that teacher, and that fear pushed me further than I thought possible.
But I also remember the moments where I would laugh with my team about a kid doing something absolutely crazy or when I would tell my friends a story about my classroom and they would look at me like I was nuts. I remember the way it feels when a kid tells you that you make them happy or when they cheer to see you after you had a substitute, even if it was only for a half-day. The way the students sneakily make you a banner to say goodbye.
There’s so much to teaching, and so much I didn’t even see after just one year. I’m heartbroken to be leaving what I thought two years ago would be my forever. I urge our state, our lawmakers, and our voters to turn teaching around and to make it a career that teachers can stay in. Where they can make a living wage, and don’t have so much stress and paperwork that they can’t teach and get it all done. My test scores were phenomenal (89% pass rate for reading, 84% for math at a rural Title I School), and especially for a first-year teacher. But I’m not staying in. I’m following a dream I’ve had a lot longer than teaching and one I realized I should follow while I have the time. I’m working towards becoming a therapist and working with children on their problems. It’s my true passion and one I hope will work out for me. Thanks Suffolk for the year and all those that supported my dream. This was a crazy ride.