It is hard to believe I just finished my 8th year of teaching. They say time flies when you're having fun. And how lucky am I that I can say that of my career? (And, truth be told, it's not always rainbows and unicorns...but I really do enjoy what I do...most days.)
In these 8 years, I've been blessed to teach alongside several teachers who have made me a better person and a better teacher.
I've been thinking. When you teach, there is really no one else who truly understands what you go through day to day than other teachers. You can try to explain it to your husband, your parents, your best friends, and they will listen with open ears--but, unfortunately, they will never have any idea how incredible, heartbreaking, exhausting, challenging, wonderfully inspiring, confusing, frustrating, overwhelming, and AMAZING this "job" can be. It's only those teaching beside you who understand. And they are the ones you run to and celebrate with when one of your little ones can FINALLY read that little book, or pass the phonics test, or write a sentence or even write a WORD--because they know how hard it was to get them there. They know the hours you spent planning, listening to the struggle, and wearing a smile when you really want to just want to cry or bang your head on the table.
Those teachers are the same ones you go to when you've had a bad day, and you feel like you just can't do it anymore. And they are there to encourage you, lift you back up, and tell you that--yes, you are a GOOD teacher, no--you are NOT messing everything up, and they reassure you when they say that they've had days just like yours, too. Then you realize that you can do hard things, and you will get by with a little help from your teacher friends. :)
And those teachers are also there to TEACH you. I can't tell you how many wonderful ladies who have dropped everything--to answer my questions, listen to my worries, show me how they do something, and share ideas with me. When I moved from teaching 4th grade to 1st--a huge jump--my mentor teacher spent a day walking me through how to plan and teach guided reading groups, since I had never done it before. (Yes, seriously. Don't judge. I promise, I know what I'm doing!) Anyway, she literally played teacher--I was the student, and she was the teacher, and she did a little reading lesson with me. That year, she taught me how to be a reading teacher. It wasn't easy, and there were many days I went to her with questions and worries, but she helped me no matter what kind of day she was having.
In 8 years, I've learned from the incredible ladies alongside me. One inspires me to become a better writing teacher--because she has such a love for it, and she passes that love to her students from year to year. One is so organized and structured--something that I strive for, but can't quite get there, not just yet! One has an incredible positive outlook and spirit about everything. Her positive attitude brightens everyone's day--I mean, I want to BE that kind of positive!!! (I'll admit. I sort of have a complaining problem. I'm working on this.) One has the sweetest teacher voice you've ever heard (you know the kind--the teacher who doesn't really have a "teacher voice" to get her kids to listen to her, because her voice is so magical), and she is so incredibly patient! One of them shows so much love. She loves her students and really gets to know them as little people. And one has such incredible balance--as a mom and teacher, she somehow knows how to do it all, and do it well. I am so, so lucky to call them friends, and to learn from them each day. So although many of you reading this are strangers, and you don't know them, I just wanted to share this because I think the best teaching happens when you work with a team that helps you to be better. And I just wanted to thank the people I teach with everyday. Thank y'all for being those teachers I look up to. Thank you for sharing, listening, encouraging, inspiring. Because of you, those exciting days are more fun, and those hard days aren't so bad.
Now excuse me while I go sing the Golden Girls theme song.