On Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to my first classroom and my first group of students. As I stood in the classroom at the end of the day, with all of my belongings, it almost brought me to tears. I did it, I thought to myself. I followed my dreams and (hopefully) touched the hearts of 15 little kindergarten kids. A bittersweet feeling.
I think back to my first day in September. I couldn’t sleep. I was anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. Basically, I was being thrown to the wolves. I had to make my own path, set my own classroom rules, be the teacher I had always dreamed of. I was just trying to figure things out day by day (with the help of my teaching partners of course). And, although there were endless work nights, and days where I felt tired and run down, it was all worth it.
Not only did I grow as a teacher, but I grew as a person too. Patience. Compassion. Flexibility. Parenting. Sense of humour. Open-minded. Firm. Just to name a few.
For 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. 5 months of the school year. These children were learning with me. Growing and maturing. Interacting with other kids. Developing their self-regulation skills. Yes, there many times when I felt frustrated. Overwhelmed really. After three months of school, I felt like some kids still weren’t quite getting it and that worried me. As a result, I was really hard on myself. What was I doing wrong? What could I be doing better? Am I really cut out for this?
I doubted myself at times. After all, they do say we are our toughest critic. But, this process taught me not to be so hard on myself. Sometimes I had to take a step back and appreciate these little humans for who they were. Take each day as it comes. Enjoy the little moments. Learn from your mistakes. And remind yourself, that it’s okay to cry on your drive home from work (as long as it’s not every day).
During my last couple weeks at my school, the other teachers were asking me if I was feeling happy or sad about leaving. I always kept my head held high and answered, A little of both. Truthfully, I was looking forward to taking a couple days off for myself to get caught up on some work at home. Some much needed “me” time.
But when Monday came this week, I woke up feeling like something was missing. I missed interacting with my fellow staff. I missed being greeted by my students when the bell rang. I missed the excitement of when my students learned something new. I missed the little letters my kids would leave for me. I was feeling emotional. I know this isn’t the end for me, but this is the last “first” teaching experience I’ll get.
So as I sit here, I can’t help but think, I hope my students remember me. I hope they know how special they are and how much of an impact they had on my life. And, if I could tell them one last thing, it would be from my favourite children’s book:
“You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”
– Dr. Seuss
Sometimes, good things come to an end, so better things can begin. On to the next teaching adventure…