There is a “gathering” feeling as the school year approaches. The impending anxiety as the work you’d intended to do over the summer looms large. The gleeful imagining of your reassembled and redecorated classroom. The curiosity about the makeup of the new faculty and how it will gel. The cynicism that the challenging dynamics that existed may persist.
The excitement to see your favorite students again, and the realism that 7th graders must needs grow toward independence and individuation, which may mean your favorites won’t be able to be who they were with you anymore. And that’s okay; it’s just different. Besides, you’ll have a new crop of 6th graders with whom to guffaw and conspire.
Arriving at my second year as a middle school English teacher, I experience a true love of my work, fully in its assets and detractions. I worked as a 3rd grade teacher for two years prior to this, and “love” wasn’t what I experienced. I felt merit in what I did; I appreciated who the students were, my own creative and professional development, and the leap of faith my boss took on a novice teacher. But two years of chronic insomnia were enough to underscore I needed out. And so, being here, looking my next year in the eye, I am so grateful.
I am grateful to walk through a university library gallery and snag a pamphlet on Alice in Wonderland sculptural interpretations, and feel excitement to teach my 7th graders this favorite of my books. I’m grateful to toss my copy of The Outsiders on my bedside table just now, with the reminder to re-read it before the school year starts. I’m grateful to fall down a Pinterest-like hole into the Facebook English Teacher groups… and feel awe, inspiration, overwhelm, and humility.
Many here know the path to anticipating my work with relish has been so rocky, its quarry-like walls have cut off the light of hope. I squandered, despaired, agonized, railed, wallowed, isolated, and stymied. That I can sit here today with excitement—and yes, plenty of realistic trepidation—is unfathomable.
And yet, I have swum up those fathoms.