Occupational Hazards

It’s been an interesting week being back at school but not actually seeing any students.  I am certainly grateful for the extra planning time–I don’t have to do content until the 12th–and it is definitely helpful to have the extra time for organizing my classroom (which the previous occupant left in shambles, so no pictures yet!) and getting to know the other staff members and culture of the school, which is definitely unique since it is an early college and a charter.  But I think I am getting antsy to actually be a teacher again, and my conversation today with a drop-in upperclassman definitely whetted that appetite.  (I am also, apparently, sufficiently far enough along in my career for my room to be a potential site for observations by education majors…go figure.)

Classes started at my old school today, and I had sent out a message through school e-mail to my former students letting them know that I would not be returning.  I’ve gotten several messages in reply as kids are logging back into their e-mails, and I feel not a small twinge of regret for leaving them, if mostly because of the difficulty inherent in starting over, but also because separation is never easy for me.

But I suppose I can take comfort in knowing that I did have an impact and made a good impression on my students, and I hope this means that they will also remember what they learned about themselves through my class and the relationships we built.

This was extremely difficult for me to read.  I guess it is wise to remember that no matter how much I do for these kids, their lives are entirely out of my control, and that no matter what they choose to do…a person’s a person, no matter how small.  That was a hard truth to stomach last year, too hard, but maybe it’s not inappropriate that it never gets easier.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to care so much that I still get nervous hearing about violence on the west side where I student-taught two years ago, that I save every note or letter a student has ever given me, that I see the name of a student who moved or dropped out and have to stop for a moment to catch my breath.  But I think that has less to do with what the students do than with how I respond internally and externally, and I guess I would choose my empathy and sensitivity over callousness and cynicism…and I do have to make that choice.

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