zaterdag 30 juni 2012

My Teacher's Heart

The emotional ride has still not reached the finish line and yesterday I even made a terrifying looping.  The thrills most people get out that action made me tremble with fear. Okay, it is very clear now where we heading for. Many questions have been answered but and in a way I am trying very hard to come to terms what changes will take place the coming few months in my life. Change that I bascially wanted and created myself but also will be very unpredictable.

I know, I can be so unpredictable myself!  It is like I am having a constant fight going on in my mind about how I am supposed to be feeling.  The one moment I feel quite happy and the next I am about to collapse.  Okay, saying goodbye to a place where I have been 'living' during office hours and beyond is not easy.   Ever since my college graduation I did work there and I gave my very best.  It became also more then just my work spot because it was also the building where many people are who I now consider not just co-workers.  They became 'home'!

Many have asked me why I am leaving, what has made me decided to go for something totally different.  Yes, I did make that list many of people will advice you to write down in order to visualize the advantages and disadvantages. Not that I had not made that one before but this time I took a very good look at what I had put down black on white.   Plus suddenly there was that open window of opportunity that I just could not ignore.

The thing is that my life for the moment is rather complicated. It is not straight forward.  The script and the lines that I have to learn by hard are not that easy and even cause me heartache and certain doubts.  That I then drag along a Kleenex box might not come to a surprise but chances are that I might only cry once I get into my car.   My car, my little car where I spend so much time.  The spot that is not spotless and have to put up with Stallie her rather chaotic state of mind.  It is also that car that kind of helped me to make up my mind about changing directions.

But I have to admit that I am leaving something behind that has shaped me.  13,5 years ago I did enter a school building that kind of scared me. I mean the moment that I pulled down the black board tiny little pieces of ceiling came down.  The student teacher that I was at the time had then not the intention to hang around in that place for a long time.  The idea that I had to face the worn out building made me doubt if that education had even been a good spot to hang out at.  But then I found out that a school building is in most cases just a piece of wrapping paper.  You need to peel of layer by layer to find out what is realy going on in there.

I fell in love with that tiny special ed school and I was so thrilled that I got my first job there.  That I had to commute daily I did not even mind. Because I felt that it was the right place for me as young teacher to work.  And suddenly the worn down building even started to vanish and when I then told strangers about the place where I was teaching I told stories about the inspiring pupils and great co-workers I got to hang out with.

That special ed school has given me so much! Yes, it kept me awake and it caused me reflux, stress and at times I even got upset and angry because I just did not totaly did agree with the way things were dealt with.  It was a spot where Stallie met up with her herself.  Where she had to push herself in order to let others use their talents wisely.  Not that I had to do all that work by myself.  No the last 14 years I had the honor to make acquantainces with some great educational minds. People that had decided that teaching was also their thing and that they wanted give those special ed kids the best education they deserved.

In 14 years many things did change.  I have seen many pupils and teacher come and go.  I also have seen a building being torn down and moving boxes dragged into a brand new building.  On top of that I got so many opportunities to find out what kind of teacher I wish to be.  I will be honest that if I think of the place where I work that I then do not visualize my own classroom but instead I then think of many faces.  Okay not all of them have become close friends of mine.  But most of them have proven that they are worthy to be called teacher.  And most of them also taught me something that I will for the rest of my life carry close to my heart.

Yes, I did make friends and some of them I am going to miss beyond words.  They were there when I did need a shoulder to rest my head on and some of them know many things of Stallie that only a few living souls know or will ever find out about me.   Some of these teachers became much more then people that I did discuss progress or downfalls of pupils with or ate cake with during the break. The millions of cup coffees that I got to drink in the mornings in the sometimes ice cold teacher lounge became part of my morning routine.   They did manage to survive the notorious morning moods that I can so openly show.   Many of these people were there when I did need a kindred spirit who still believes that it is worth to go against the stream and that many of us deserve many chances to get it right.

Stallie has been given so many opportunities to get it right and try out new things.  I am not able to put just down a few highlights that stand out.  Because every day I did hang out in that place did matter greatly.  Yes, it is that spot that got to meet up with the best and the worst of Stallie.  So yes, it was hard to drive through that gate without keeping my eyes dry. 
 The best way to end this rather hard to write entry is by telling (I am fully aware of the fact that I have mentioned this before but this has been a very crucial moment in my life!) you what a person once asked me 13 years ago when I had told him about my special ed studies.    He was sincerly interested but at the end of my monologue he looked me straight in the eyes and then said:'Sounds all very interesting but what did you learn from your pupils?'

It was that exact moment that it hit me that being a teacher means that you have to listen and observe constanly your audience.   Those awesome kids did teach me plenty of facts about life.   It is now that I feel ready to go back into wide open world and put to the test what I have been taught and put it into practice.

I want to find out that what I think that I have been preaching in one spot can work in a total different environment.  Because after all the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  I just change now after almost for 14 years of the special ed menu to the more selective menu.  But I hope that I can add some of my approved-by-extremely-critical-food-critics/pupils-dishes to their haute cuisine because they deserve to get the three star treatment.

So goodbye SJH!!!!  You for sure shaped my educational heart!

 P.S.: I added this link to a story that I got to read this morning. Agreeing with most of the content of this story because I have felt or feel sometimes like I am in a strange land as a teacher. Not that I am leaving the classroom I just need a different classroom to get back into the shape I wish to be.
Not Another "Why I Left the Classroom" Story - Teacher in a Strange Land - Education Week Teacher


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