So, I had a meltdown today.
Less than a full month into the school year, and I went into full meltdown mode.
I’m fairly certain I repeated “I can’t do this” more times than I can count on two hands. I felt my heart palpitate. I started breathing a little harder. I kept saying over and over that there was absolutely NO way I could make it through this school year alive.
4 different preps, 3 different grade levels, kids from very bottom to the very top, grades on grades, all the extras of “teaching”, trainings, bi-weekly meetings …”I just can’t do this.”
And as I’m sitting here typing this, I see the sign in my room that I have kids read aloud to me multiple times a day–“We can do hard things.”
I preach to my kids on the daily. I preach about my expectations. I preach about how we are the example in all instances. We are the example when walking down the hallway. We are the example when we are completing our work to the best of our ability. We are the example when things get tough, and we keep pushing through it. I preach how no matter how hard a task is, YOU CAN DO IT.
But in those few moments, I truly felt as though teaching was no longer my calling.
That this year would be my last.
That the joy of teaching had been sucked right out of me.
And then, I walked into my classroom.
The kids were ready to get going. 2nd period flew on by, and 3rd period walked in. Kids I’ve had THREE years in a row. Kids who have seen me during good times and bad. They’ve seen me teach at my best and probably my worst.
Without knowing the struggle I had earlier in the day, a conversation somehow gets started…
“You know, you’re the first kind of teacher like YOU in this generation. You’re loud, but you expect a lot from us. “
And another girl chimes in…
“Everyone tells me I’m going to be a “Ms. Bal” teacher when I grow up. That’s a good thing.”
And another girl, who I had as a 7th grader and is now a senior , pipes up…
“Ms. Bal is the reason I want to be a teacher.”
And I suddenly had a smile on my face.
The stress from earlier didn’t matter. The worry and anxiety from the morning had gone away. I had a smile on my face.
And it hit me. Yeah, getting in grades in a timely matter is important. Sure, the trainings and meetings and amount of paperwork is always going to be there. The stress probably isn’t going to go away soon, and I’ll have to make due.
…but it’s the kids that matter.
What matters more than any of the other things I’m worried about is the KIDS realizing I make a difference. The kids realizing I care. The kids realizing that no matter what, I’m going to push them and push them until they believe they can do “it”, & I’ll be there to push them back up when they fall.
So as I’m still at school at 5 PM on a Tuesday trying to gather up stacks of paperwork to take home, say a prayer for me. Keep me in your thoughts. Send me your good juju. Pray that I constantly remember that I am in it FOR THE KIDS.
Because in the grand scheme of things, nothing and no one else can or will ever be as important as the kids.
PS-For the second time since school started, the sign at the top has been set on my desk by a colleague, and how true it rings. “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”