A Journey to the Unexpected

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 08 2013

A Fresh Start

Sometime around July, reality hit. While all the TeachforUs bloggers I came in with were heading on to grad school, new jobs, and even the great unknown, I wasn’t. Instead, I was staying in the same classroom that shows the battle scars of countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears… all very literally. In fact, I could add graffiti, tobacco, gum, and a few other things to that list. I know I had my reasons for staying at the end of last year, but I still had to wonder why.

Fast forward through a few months of summertime vacationing, volunteering, socializing, and, of course, planning. I had painted one of the walls in my room and made a few plans to try to smooth this year out, and I was hanging out with friends the night before Professional Development days kicked into full gear, trying to make myself make the best of things. We opened an email. Within the course of the next week, we found out the high school was closing and moving to my middle school, and my middle school was moving out to consolidate with the other middle school.

I could write about all the frustrations—the increased class size, the uncertainty, the longer drive… but that won’t change anything. The fact is, despite my occasional stress-induced eye-tics and melt-downs, I’m lucky. The fact is, I needed a change.

The last week has been packed—no pun intended, though it definitely exists given the amount of books that have gone into boxes in the last four days. Three days ago, my new classroom was a disaster, long abandoned as a storage room for trash because a leak had destroyed the wall paint and ceiling tiles. In the last two days, it has become a beautiful blue haven of learning (and you better believe that’s what I’ll call it) as friends scraped dead bugs out of light fixtures, hauled out garbage and in beautiful desks, and painted, hour after hour. We have a long way to go, but it reminds me just how much my life is caught up in its own little transformation right now. Three years ago today, I never could never have imagined myself here. Two years ago today, I had never felt as alone, confused, and insecure as I did at that moment, though little did I know that was only the beginning of that six month spiral down. A year ago today, I was surprising myself with the smoothness of my second “first-day”. A month ago, I was trying to figure out just who I’d become in the last two years. And today, I know that even though my job title hasn’t changed, most other things have.

I have incredible friends who have given more of their time and support than I could ever ask, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the hauling, painting, and cleaning we have left to do before their classrooms are also transformed.

I have an unspeakable appreciation for the unbelievable friends who have stuck with me not only through the last few years of insanity, but through the years and even decades of all my various ups and downs and turn-arounds.

I have a brand new classroom with none of the scars of the last two years carved into them. True, it also doesn’t have any technology (that’ll be an adventure), and it might have almost twice as many students in it, but I’m not afraid of that like I’d expect me to be.

More than anything, I have a confidence that it’s going to be ok. I don’t feel stuck the way I did two years, or even two weeks ago. There have been plenty of times in the last two years I’ve felt like the rug’s been pulled out from under me, and I’m finally discovering that there’s still solid ground under it.

In a week, my classroom and my students will be new. In a year, my whole lifestyle will be, and I’m excited. It’s a lot of work, that’s for sure, and it’s pretty clear that I need time to prepare, to clean out the old garbage and clutter that’s collected in the last two years and figure out what color to paint this new life; taking the experience, leaving the dried up chewing gum stuck to the shelves. I’ve still got this year, but it’s going to be different, and that’s enough for now.

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