What intimidates you?
Often what is ours to do is the very thing that most intimidates us.
*This story was written in December of 2020 but still rings true.
For the majority of my life, I have known that I wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school with my stuffed animals on a chalk board that my dad brought from work. I even began as an elementary education major in undergrad, but many different things happened that changed the course of my undergraduate career and I ended up graduating with a communications degree. When I graduated in 2014, I went on the job hunt, interviewed for a door to door sales position and got it but my heart wasn’t in it, so I declined the offer. About a month later, my friend told me about this teachers aide position. I went in for an interview and was offered the job on the spot.
I had two years of educational experience in undergrad and that definitely helped. So I started as an aide and slowly throughout the years I worked my way up. I just started my 7th year at the school and I have held the middle school math position for the last three years. When the math position opened up, I had been the middle school aide. I had to step in due to unforeseen circumstances created by a fellow teacher. I was incredibly nervous and I couldn’t help but care about what others thought.
You see, in a Catholic school, depending on the administration, you can teach without a license. I of course didn’t want to be seen as a fraud, even though I felt like one for everyday. I know that feeling like a fraud pushed me to work hard and make sure that I was doing a good job. It pushed me to go back to school and earlier this year, I graduated with a Masters in Education. It was a dream come true.
However, so many things have changed this year, and I am not the same person who I was a year ago. I started my spiritual journey in October of 2019 and it has helped me work through so much trauma. But the one that I keep coming back to is, am I good enough? Am I good enough to be the teacher that I want to be? My reiki master would say yes, she is incredibly insightful and has helped me through so much in the one year.
This year our school got a new principal. I had been under the same principal for the last six years and created an incredible relationship with this woman. She encouraged me to go back to school, she helped me figure out how to handle so many different situations, she believed in me when I couldn’t, she even let me experiment with different clubs and methods of teaching, she was always saying yes, because she knew we could be trusted to do our best.
2020 being the year that it is, has left me feeling a little jaded by others. The new principal seemed nice at first, we bonded over the methods of growth mindset and Harry Potter. But then the school year began and we are teaching in-person and online simultaneously. I think that I adapted fairly well with everything going digital but I don’t feel like the teacher that I was. I don’t feel that my teaching is as strong or as impactive. Staring at a computer screen all day has put so much doubt into my teaching identity.
The e-learners and in-person students are struggling, not only from the new material they are to learn at home but also mentally with how the pandemic has caused us to isolate ourselves. This in turn has made me feel like less of a teacher. Now I don’t want to sound hopeless because I know that I can and will always do my best when it comes to teaching, but this year has really kicked me in the ass.
The other day, the wifi went out and I’m not going to lie, I felt a huge sense of relief. Not because I didn’t want to teach the e-learners but because I could get back to the basics of teaching. To come up with a last minute lesson plan and teach like I did before. I could walk around more, engage with the students more, and even write on the whiteboard. I have been using a digital whiteboard to make sure that the e-learners were getting the same information. But the best part was that I didn’t have to look at a screen all day!
Not only have I been feeling like teaching might just not be for me, even though I know that I am good at it and I would give the students the world, but the district that I work for doesn’t seem to care about its teachers. I have been in an email battle with some of the higher ups about getting us convenient testing as we are in person and exposed to the virus. I have been asking them to ask the teachers what they think is best because no one has really done that. They sent out a survey asking us to be honest and asking questions about how we feel the year has been going so far and then said we know you’re stressed please use our mental health program but you still need to show up to school.
When I say that this year has been the hardest for teaching I mean it. I am not the teacher that I want to be. I know that the students are struggling but so are all the teachers. But to add to the shit show that is this year, the new principal has been insufferable. She has been micromanaging everything and everyone and honestly not doing it for the good of the school or the community. She has cornered me twice, once about emailing her too much, which I didn’t understand as the schedule she created for me left no room for me to come talk to her during the day and then another time to tell me to stop speaking for the staff. I didn’t speak for them as I asked her a question about what the district was doing regarding the rising cases and I had included the staff. I said ‘I don’t know if anyone else has been worried about this so I thought I’d reach out,’ there was no speaking for others in the email.
She clearly has a lot of work to go through herself because her demeanor is just one that makes you cringe every time, I honestly don’t think that she even likes kids. If I am being honest, it is as if the Ministry of Magic has stepped in and placed Umbridge in charge. It is a very discouraging atmosphere and is what brought me to this moment. I started actively looking for a new job and finally landed an interview and then a second one. Yesterday, I had my first real interview as a licensed teacher, and I don’t think it went horribly but it showed me that I definitely need to step it up.
The interview was long and about half way through I lost hope that this position would be mine. Some of you may be asking yourself, ‘how could she leave her current students in the middle of the year,’ friends its that bad. I love my students, but they would be fine without me. I can’t put my mental health on the back burner while the new principal tears down all the things we built in that school. Whatever happens, whether I get this job or not, I learned some new ways of approaching teaching because at their school they provide each teacher coaching and guidance and I thought that was incredible because it would force me to reflect more on my teaching. This doesn’t happen at my school and never really has.
Last night, after all was said and done, I definitely felt depressed. I felt that I could’ve done better at the interview and that I could’ve done more research but what I neglected to realize was that it WAS my first professional interview and that I was lucky enough to get a second one. I am grateful for that and I am grateful for the opportunity to meet a team that cares for their teachers well being and continued education.
My spiritual journey lead me to finding a comfort among reading oracle cards. So last night, after hours of self pity, I decided to ask the cards if everything was going to be okay. They came through as they always do. They told me that often what is rising feels far bigger than we could possibly hold, be a container for it anyway. They told me that often what is ours to do is the very thing that most intimidates us, be courageous and do it anyway. They told me that we need to release old identities and ways that no longer serve us, using our intuition as a compass. (I read from the Work Your Light Oracle Cards by Rebecca Campbell, highly recommend!)
They told me that I am not who I was a year ago or who I will soon be, that I am in between, emerging, half risen, half falling, and to keep doing the work, to keep transforming. They told me that while I am in this phase not to put myself under pressure to perform. The wisdom of the universe is always within reach and this made me really think about all of the doubt I have had about being a teacher. It made me realize that I am where I need to be. I am meant to be a teacher. Teaching has always been so intimidating to me because you are the key to many students’ futures. You are the one they look up to and the one they trust to gain knowledge from to make their own choices in life.
Being a teacher is a great responsibility and I do not ever want to take it lightly. I know that if I continue to stay in the school that I am currently in, I will never experience the world that I so desperately am drawn towards and I won’t gain the experience that I need to become the best educator I can be. My creativity and very soul will be stifled and so I will continue to look for a place that will be the best fit for me as an educator because I know that it exists somewhere. Whether that is here or there, I know that I will always have myself to depend on, the students, and the material that needs to be sewn into the children's incredible minds.