Now that my first year of teaching is finished, in many ways, I'm feeling very lost.
Summer has just begun, and this summer isn't quite like any summer I've had previously. I'm not living in a college dorm working strange hours. I'm not filling my days with a near-minimum wage kind of job. I'm experiencing my first grown-up summer, and, don't get me wrong, this is way better than the summers that I previously mentioned, but already, I am bored.
Although this is only day two of my summer, I'm already feeling lost without the things that have been staples to my day for the past ten months. Mostly, I feel lost without my students.
I love this picture. I could have chosen the nice one that was taken before this where they are all nicely smiling and proudly displaying the certificates they earned for achieving honor roll status. This one, however, sums up this class much better. Also, it is worth noting that this was a Friday and it was "Crazy Hair Day." I do not make a habit out of showing up to school/work looking like this.
I'm in a limbo where my previous students are no longer mine, and I don't yet have names or faces of the students with whom I can look forward to working. My students were what kept me busy, both in and out of school. During the school year, I always had something I could be doing for them... grading their papers, planning lessons and activities for them, making PowerPoints, responding to their parents' e-mails, reading books that they recommended to me - the list goes on and on. While these things seemed mildly stressful and inconvenient during the year, I actually miss them. And more than I miss doing the work, I miss the kids.
Although the pictures might indicate otherwise, we really did get some learning done this year.
I enjoyed coming home after school and recounting the funny comments the students had made throughout the day or remembering the really great moments of teaching and learning that had happened during the day.
Secondly, I'm feeling lost without my co-workers. The last day of school was bitter-sweet, not only becuase I was saying goodbye to my students, but because I was saying goodbye to a group of co-workers that has been more like family to me than anything else. Barbara, our team leader, said to us (while fighting back tears) that in her more than thirty years of teaching experience, this has been the best team with which she has worked. And I believe her... we all do. Our administrators definitely knew what they were doing when they designed our team. We worked incredibly well together, and always had each other's back. There was no fighting or drama... not even really a disagreement. It's hard for me to even think back to last summer at about this time when we were all meeting for the first time, but I remember thinking even then that this was going to be a group of people that was going to blend well together. And my expectations were far surpassed. We became friends outside of work, most of the time spending at least one day or night of our weekend together.
Some of us even began graduate school together. In thinking about who my closest friends are, my co-workers and teammates would be some of the first people I would mention. It's hard to imagine returning to school in the fall and not having the same team there waiting for me. Adam has taken a 5th grade teaching position at Kooser Elementary, which will drastically change the dynamic of our team. Taylor got her job back, but may or may not be on our team, depending on who Adam's replacement is. I'm very thankful to have had the great year together that we did - it was a year that I will never forget. At the same time, I'm nervous about the unexpected year that is to come, given the changes that are and will be taking place.
Lastly, I'm feeling lost in my faith. I've been reading some books and engaging in some discussions that have really challenged my thinking and my beliefs. Don't get me wrong, I've never ever felt like I've had everything figured out in terms of religion or faith, but for the first time in my life, I am having doubts. I don't doubt at all that there is a God, but I have doubts about much of what I have been taught to believe. I'm frustrated with all the questions that I have and I'm ashamed for having questions or doubts at all. More to come on that topic.
Cartoonist Jhonen Vasquez once said, "There's nothing terribly wrong with feeling lost, so long as that feeling precedes some plan on your part to actually do something about it." So, as my summer begins, in attempt to "do something about it," I'll be working on lesson plans for next year, planning an outing or two with my co-workers, and continuing to explore my faith and beliefs. Perhaps this summer won't be so boring after all.