Saturday, May 25, 2013
So Much to Say...
This school year has kept me jumping. Through hoops, through flames, through trials and tribulations that I never had imagined would come to pass, and now it's coming to an end.
Normally at this time of year I am excited to see the end of the school year in sight, but this year every day that ticks off the calendar marks a "last event" for me, and it's earth shattering, poignant, and heart breaking all at the same time.
My school district has merged with another, and I have found myself on the "maybe" list for being rehired. While I had mentally prepared myself for the fall out of being union president, I wasn't prepared emotionally. Even a little bit. I am pretty sure my heart, and quite possibly my spirit is irreparably broken.
I had been warned that the being laid off process is similar to the stages of grief, and in fact I have found that if is not just LIKE grief... it IS grief.
It comes in waves, breath taking, suffocating, tear inducing weights on my being. I've lost weight (usually a good thing), I can't sleep, or concentrate. I find myself constantly doubting myself. My abilities to teach, to inspire, to lead. I find myself sitting in my car every morning sometimes fighting tears, and sometimes letting them flow freely while silently willing myself to enter the building where I imagined myself retiring in order to finish out this school year. My doctor offered to put me on stress induced medical leave. I declined, because in that district, in that building, in room 4 are twenty five children who depend on me. I encourage my students to be brave, to take risks, and to keep trying even when things are hard. What kind of teacher would I be if I abandoned them with only a couple weeks of the school year left? I can't do it. Leader sets the pace, at least that is what they told me back when I waited tables...a skill I hope is like riding a bicycle, as I may need it very soon.
I compose myself, enter the school and wait for my students to meet me at our "waiting spot". I am greeted with hugs, and notes, and pictures, from my own students, and wayward souls that have figured out I have a soft spot for any child that needs someone to love them. None of them know that I will not be back in the fall. I have families registering for kindergarten next year stop by my room to tell me that they have requested my class, and I am forced to explain (while trying desperately not to cry) that I don't know if I will have a job in the district next year, while a voice in my head pipes up "Now they are going to wonder WHY you are not highly qualified enough to have a job." I fight back the demons, paste a smile back on my face, and carry on.
As we count the days of school, and I remind the students that it seems like not long ago we were counting UP to the 100th day of school party, my heart wrenches as I realize I may not have a 100th day of school party next year. There won't be a "Mean Mrs. Thompson" counting challenge, or caterpillars to watch, or Alpha Friends to introduce while singing and dancing. I marvel over the progress my students have made this year, and worry about those that are struggling. I set up meetings with parents who's children are off their academic schedule, and find myself explaining again, that I do not know if I will have a job in the district, much less at Perry, so no, I can not have their child in my class next fall. I paste on a smile and tell them that I am sure everything will work out, when that voice in my head pipes up again, "Now they probably think it's YOUR fault their child isn't at grade level...you aren't good enough."
I look at my cape, hanging on my desk, a reminder that I am a superhero in my classroom, or at least that is what it's supposed to do. Right now it just taunts me. My maybe letter is Kriptonite, rendering me powerless, confused, and weak.
I am gearing up to pack up my room. Room 4, that I love with an intensity that in indescribable. My room. My happy place, where Alpha Friend dances were born, where children learned colors, numbers, counting, reading, and writing. Where children laughed, cried, and learned to follow the rules, take chances, and trust. I think I will be giving a lot of stuff away...
I listen to those who tell me, "Everything will work out," and I think, "Well that is easy for you to say, you HAVE a job!" I listen, I pray, I hope... but I am not sure what it is that I am praying or hoping for... I think I have to listen a little harder.
We will complete our journey in room 4, together. I will give more hugs, more high fives, more smiles, more warning looks, move clips, enjoy the laughter, tape up crayon pictures, and kindergarten spelling love note, settle disagreements, confide that I once peed my pants in kindergarten too, sing, dance, finish assessing, write heartfelt comments on report cards, and file CA-60 paperwork, Perhaps these moments will be a little more sweet because they mark the ending of a journey. I'll try very hard not to cry, but I do that a lot lately. If I do find myself in tears, I will wipe them away and tell my class that I am crying because I am so proud of how AWESOME they are. (I've had to use that one a few times, and they totally believe it) I will do all these things because my amazing, sweet, talented, funny, creative students, a class full of many colored crayons, is depending on me. In their eyes, I am good enough, and I guess when it comes right down to it, that is really all that matters.
A friend posted on my Facebook wall that sometimes when things fall apart, it's so that better things can come together. I am not sure what is better than room 4, but I sure hope it makes itself apparent soon.
God is good. All the time.