Many of you know that I spent the last three years teaching at a tiny, brand new, private school. It was my first job right out of college. My first classroom. My first testing ground fully out on my own.
A few weeks ago, I went back to visit for the big Christmas Concert — or Lux Venit as they call it (that’s how you know they’re fancy – using Latin names). To be honest, I was nervous. I knew/hoped my kids would be excited to see me, and there were parents that I wanted to catch up with. But I had left my time at the school feeling used, burnt out, and a bit wounded. Beyond my closest friends, most people only knew my “easy-out” reason for leaving — I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. But there’s a lot more baggage behind the scenes.
Everyone has places where they have spent a noteable portion of their lives — childhood homes, friends’ houses, summer camps, colleges, office buildings, the list goes on. I had spent three years there. THREE YEARS. As I anticipated going to the concert – I couldn’t help but rehash parts of those three years. Some parts good, others far from it. I wanted to see my kids, to spy on the new classroom set-ups, to be hug attacked. But I didn’t want to reopen wounds just finally crusting over.
Thankfully I didn’t talk myself out of going. I went. My best teacher friend (who started and left at the same time as me) and I snuck into a middle back row. As the students filed in one of them spotted us. It set off a chain reaction of turning around, waving, and making crazy faces. It made my heart soar!
Those faces. Those smiles. Those little hearts. That’s what kept me there and what I will always cherish from those years.
The concert passed with lots of whispers and laughs, remembering funny moments, and thinking how our students looked so big, and yet their little personalities haven’t changed at all.
As the concert ended we were swarmed with hugs – one of my favorite students pushing through on crutches to reach me first. All of them wanted me to come back next year to teach their class. One of my first year students (now a cool seventh grader) even came over to say how good it was to see me and ask how I was doing.
You know how in the grinch movie his heart grows three times as big? Teaching has shown me that your heart can grow so big it hurts. I love these kids. They’ll always be my kids.
At the end of the day though, life goes on. You meet new people and go on new adventures. To be honest, I almost didn’t publish this post. It sat in my draft folder for almost a month. I want to speak truth and share life – I don’t want to cast negativity on anyone or any place. While I wouldn’t wish some of my teaching experience on anyone – there are parts that I with everyone could have a taste of.
A lot of people have asked me if I miss teaching, and I do. But not as much as I thought I would. This year, full of changes, has shown me that life is more than a paycheck and a place to live. Loving what you do is important. Filling your life with light giving people is important. Learning to accept who you are and the gifts you have is most important.
It’s so easy to compare. To criticize. To abandon hope. But if you can take the time to be still and look around you — you realize life is a pretty grand thing. You don’t have to fit into anyone else’s ideal. And if you’re feeling used and burnt out – make a change. Don’t let your past weigh you down. Go find a new adventure. 🙂