Even though it was only one grade level, there's no doubt it rocked my world. Add being pregnant through the whole thing to it and some days (weeks and really months) I was hanging on by a thread. Finally after Christmas I finally started to enjoy it. In January I finally felt the groove and once again enjoyed teaching. Since I enjoyed nearly every day of teaching for the ten years prior, it was very very sad to me that I wasn't enjoying it. More than once I said to myself, My heart's just not in this. It would bring tears to my eyes. Teaching is a job you either do with you heart, or you get out. One Monday morning I was so sad to be at school I actually considered other options. Tutoring was the only other option I could realistically think of. See, I still wanted to teach. Just not first grade. They're just not learning, I kept thinking.
My only hope, was to think it was a one year gig and I'd be back in 2nd next year. Then a couple weeks ago the principal told me he decided I would stay put in first grade. To say I was shocked was an understatement. I gave reasons why I am a better teacher in second grade. I did everything but beg him to put me back. It took all I had to not let a tear fall in front of him. After I said and asked all I could I walked out of his office and straight to my teammate's room and bawled uncontrollably. Then I walked into my other teammates room with a handful of damp Kleenex and rehashed everything again. I was hurt, crushed and beyond disappointed. I got myself together, barely, and finished out the day. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stop talking about it. I considered transferring schools. I went weeks being consumed by the thought.
I had a long talk about it with Liv and when we were done I actually thought, "Next year could be different." Maybe I will be alright in first grade. I had made peace with it and it was what it was. I have learned a lot through this challenging change and things could only look up for next year. Just as my mindset changed he called me in his office again last week. We sat down and he immediately said, "I wanted to let you know I've been thinking about the points you made and I've decided to put you in second grade next year." What?! I grabbed the edge of the desk thinking I was being Punked or something. He followed it up with, "I want you to know this is my decision and you can go on Maternity Leave knowing where you'll be next year." I thanked him over and over. I felt relief like I hadn't felt since last spring.
I went to tell my first grade teammates right away again. As I opened my mouth to tell one of them, I immediately realized this was bittersweet news. I had finally found my way. Now I'm changing again. A new curriculum again for reading next year. Changing rooms again. Different, different, different.
Overall, am I happy I'll be in second again next year? Yes.
Yesterday I did 19 out of 20 reading assessments for quarter three. I met with 19 students one on one in the hallway to listen to them read. As I was setting it up I thought, "This should be good," sarcastically. I was pleasantly surprised (ok, they shocked the hell out of me) that all but two students passed. I was high-fiving, hugging and cheering for student after student. As I was cleaning up at the end of the day I couldn't help but think, "I did that! I taught them!" Each one has grown so much in so many ways.
I've been a confident teacher for years and this year I lost a lot of my confidence. Turns out I've been doing it the entire time. The change from beginning of first grade to the end has to be one of the biggest jumps in all the grades, except kindergarten, possibly.
As the year winds down for me, with maternity leave looming each and every day, I can't believe that I know can say and really feel like I'm going to miss it. Miss them. Miss first grade. I feel like they need me and as I prepare my room, my desk, the curriculum, I wonder what will happen when I'm gone. How will I release it all? How will I stay out of there? How will they do without me? After everything I've put into it this year I can now realize why I felt my heart wasn't in it. My heart was in it so deeply I was practically numb. Now that the hard part is over I can feel each student tugging at my heart. Each one needs me for a different reason in a different way, deeper than most second graders ever need their teacher. This thought made me so uncomfortable in the fall and now I find it so endearing.
It makes me want to commit to going back those last few weeks.
However, soon Baby will be born and I'm certain my love for him or her will surmount any and all love I have for my students.
If I make it through this week, it will, for certain, be my last week as a first grade teacher. It's sure to be bittersweet. I will give it all I have to give. I will make it as special as possible for them and me.