Last night I had my first Wegmans dream since my last day. In the dream, I was accidentally scheduled to work two weeks after my last day (which would be around now). So I worked, being the responsible person that I am, but it was riddled with difficulties managing my working in the cheese shop with my teaching job. (It might have been the weekend in the dream, I can’t remember.) What I do remember most is that Wegmans had developed this really yummy oatmeal recipe that had to be prepared in the cheese shop, which didn’t make sense considering it didn’t include any cheese. But it was incredibly popular and people were lining up to by our new oatmeal, so there was a lot of hustle and bustle in the cheese shop to make more batches of it. I told my boss that I could work today but that she needed to remember I didn’t work there anymore and could she please take me off the schedule, as sad as that was for me.
Yesterday completed my first week back in the classroom after my 1 1/2 year hiatus. I can’t put into words how very excited I am to be teaching again. While I was carrying a crate of classroom goodies to my car (stapler, 3-hole puncher, label maker, history books, decorations, mug, and tea) I was beaming. I was so happy that I started to tear up. And what made that feeling so powerful for me was that I had never felt that excitement at the beginning of the school year before now. Yes, I loved my students at [former school where I worked]. I was excited to teach them and get to know them and grow together. But I wasn’t excited about… all the other stuff.
The “other stuff” at my new teaching gig is just as exciting as the students. Well, I don’t know yet because I haven’t met them. But that’s my point. This past week I spent my time in meetings and setting up the classroom and preparing materials. And all of that left me feeling energized and excited, instead of deflated, demoralized, and anxious. My colleagues are inspiring and fun. I love their passion and energy and sense of humor. They have an incredible amount of love for and dedication to their students. There’s also so much mutual respect for each other. And they have welcomed me love, support, humor, companionship, and so much more. I finally feel as though I’ve found “my people” in the education world.
I remember my first year teaching (2007) and I had colleagues (not all, but a select few) that said, “Whatever you do, don’t talk your first year. Don’t say anything in meetings. Don’t voice your opinion. Don’t ask questions. Just follow along. You’re new, no one wants to hear what you have to say.” Now, I don’t know if that was an exception if the person(s) who told me that had a bad experience or if they were just riddled with fear. And maybe there’s some truth to it because my exodus from [former school where I worked] was in part because I stood up for myself. (Long story, my bias.) But I don’t feel that way in my new teaching gig. In fact, my colleagues have gone out of the way to ask my opinion, to listen, to consider my past teaching experiences. They value the knowledge and outside experience that I have to bring to our little community.
I’m grateful for my time away from teaching. I don’t feel that I lost anything (except the unhealthy cynicism) and it gave me time to regroup mentally and figure out what I wanted for myself. I wasn’t happy in my former teaching gig. I needed that hiatus to figure out whether it was teaching, the education system, or just that environment. This past year and a half I’ve focused on taking care of all aspects of me. It’s been the most important work I’ve done in my life. Rediscovering my love for the trails, eating healthier, therapy, having a job… those and more are some of the things that have helped me get to a good place. A great place, in fact. And I am unconditionally grateful to Wegmans for giving me a home and meaningful work for a year. Working in the cheese shop made such a positive impact on my life. I learned what it was like to work in a supportive and respectful work environment and to be valued and cared for by an employer.
So to say things are going well for me, at least professionally, would be an understatement. I can’t wait until Monday when I get to meet our students and the real, exciting, dirty work of teaching begins. I can’t wait for the new challenges that await. I’m not counting down the days until Thanksgiving break, Christmas, Spring Break, the end of the year. I’m looking forward to all the time ahead of me to get to know my students and my colleagues and to be a part of this amazing learning community.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Thank you to everyone who has given me unconditional support and love over the years. It hasn’t been easy, and there’s still a bit more to work on personally. But I couldn’t have dealt with the stuff I’ve gone through over the years without my family and friends and the outpouring of love, support, and positive energy. #liveisbetterwithlove
I love you keep going.