There's this wonderful thing about teaching that I'm not sure exists in all professions. Every fall, I am given this beautiful opportunity to just start over. The mistakes of the previous year no longer linger, threatening to remind me of my inadequacies as an educator. The lessons I didn't have time for, the promises I forgot to keep, the teachable moments I let slip by, they lessen their grip on me and slowly. they let me go.
And I let go of them. For a few weeks, I forget about myself as a teacher and then I'm just a wife or a friend or a daughter or a sister or a niece or any of those other roles I play when I'm not in the classroom. And for those few weeks, I can just be whatever it is that I'd like to be. If I'm sad, I'll be sad. And if I feel lazy, oh yes, I'll be lazy. And it's ok. Because for that little while when I'm not Teacher Emily, I don't have to pretend.
Because probably what you didn't know is
teaching is an act.
Each morning, I wake up, shake off the worries, the tears, the frustrations, the sleepys of the those first few hours and I walk into my classroom ready to convince 10 adults that knowing the difference between "its" and "it's" is, indeed, important. And somedays I'd much rather cry for a bit and then perhaps face my students. But most days I just don't have the time. They give of their time to be there and so I do my best to let go of whatever paces the halls of my little mind. And I muster every ounce of enthusiasm because I know that, ultimately, perhaps those little English intricacies don't matter, but the effort, the camaraderie, the community and the little victories do. And that false enthusiasm for this difficult language reinvents itself as a strong belief in what my students are capable of.
On many of those wipe-my-tears kind of days, I actually walk out a little lighter, believing that maybe it will be okay and maybe it can be done.
Understand, though, that letting go isn't easy. It takes effort and conviction that sometimes I'm not sure I have. But letting go is a choice. And as a teacher, I feel I must make that choice in order to be effective.
So when summer comes, I welcome the days of not letting go. Of worrying if I'd like. Of just feeling how I feel. And being okay with that.
And in a couple weeks from now, I'll go back to being a teacher. Not in the classroom, of course, but in my house and in my backyard where I'll pore over the units, the lessons, the tests, the projects, every little detail that went into the year. And I'll look at what worked. And what didn't. And I'll face all those failures and missteps, exploring where I went wrong and what I can do differently. Because I honestly believe I can do better. Somewhere inside of me, a true educator awaits her release.
And when the next school year inevitably arrives, I will be ready to be better than I've been. With all the hope and promise of a, literally, blank slate.
*Pictures via pinterest. Click for link.