Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summertime, We Made It.

The first day of summer. What a glorious moment.
Since September of last year, I dreamed of what this day would be like.

Time after time, I envisioned the 4:30 pm bell ringing on that final day in May, dropping to my knees and feeling the sweet victory of both surrender and perseverance...emotional, exhausted, elated.

But then the last day came. And there were no tears, no extremes of emotion. It happened pretty painlessly; they let me down easy.

What used to be a high stress environment finally winded down as the semester wrapped up. Once we finished end of year testing, it was really gratifying to see the data of just how much my students grew in reading. We celebrated student success with classroom parties and an overnight school trip to New Orleans. As teachers, we were given time to breathe. It's crazy how less stressful days can so dramatically increase your happiness.

So much so that when the 12 pm dismissal came for summer on our last school day, I felt pretty casual and calm. I said my goodbyes and took the honorary summer selfies with my favorite preteens. Though some of them may have been final goodbyes, it didn't feel like forever. At least not yet.

On our last staff day we had time to reflect with the team on all that this year was. With YES Prep being the true adult summer camp that never ends, we played some games to reminisce on our memories.

Working at a school, you sometimes feel like you are in your own isolated struggle in your classroom. But then you come together and realize you are all fighting the same fight.

As I listened to everyone recall their memories, I realized we all can agree on a few things:
#1. This job was freaking hard. 

 Sometimes you question if you're being dramatic or delusional and it's very reassuring to know that the struggle is real and not imagined.
#2. The personal challenges were humbling.

 Whether it's in the form of critical feedback from supervisors, peers or issues with the children, you get your dignity served on a platter and walk away a little wiser.
#3. We survived because of collective teamwork and grit.

When at your lowest low, it's your teammates that pick you back up, dust your shoulders off and send you back in the classroom.

In the trenches of the achievement gap, where first year teachers can so easily get hazed by the children, your team is what saves you. The whole really is greater than the sum of parts. In reflecting on the past year, I am humbled to have been apart of the 2013/2014 Northside team. And my gosh, am I going to miss everyone.

As I walk away with a teacher certification and enough kid memories to write  a saga of short stories on preteens, I'm excited to be looking at the world with a new growth mindset that's a little more gritty.

As for what's next, I have all summer long to sit by the pool and contemplate that over margaritas. It may involve changing zip codes and careers, but stay tuned for more on that. For now, let's enjoy the season. Happy Summer Y'all! We made it.

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