“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best …’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you begin to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” –A.A. Milne
I’ve written a bit before about how life is very good now, that it’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to blog and that I have so much in my life to be grateful for. But here I am, quoting Winnie-the-Pooh again as I think about the time that led up to right now.
Last year, job-wise, was rough. Really rough. I had a job and was grateful for that–it paid well, and made it possible for us to buy our dream home when we moved from Texas to Connecticut. But it did not make me happy. Without going into too much detail (because I don’t like to dwell on the past, and I’m trying very hard not to be bitter), I was in a difficult teaching job, but wasn’t able (allowed might be the better word) to use my skills built up over 9 years of experience to get the job done. I was expected to learn a whole new way of teaching, and to do it, quickly and well.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks — not an adage I ever gave much credit to, until last year.
For a long time, I tried to hang in there. And I knew that I would until the end of the school year, because I don’t believe that teachers should leave their jobs mid-year. But, because I’d worked in the charter school world for so long, because I’d only ever worked in low-income schools, making the decision to leave was harder than you might think.
Then, I decided.
I made it known in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be returning to that school. In all honesty, they’d pretty much already written me off anyway. “Not as advertised” (I’d come highly recommended because I am, actually, a very good teacher, if I do say so myself) might as well have been stamped on my forehead. But decision made, I persevered to the end of the year, looking for a new job as I did so.
Here’s where we get to Dickens.
It was the best of times.
As Pooh so wisely states, that moment of anticipation, when you know something great is about to happen, but before it does, is wonderful. As I eagerly pursued my dream job–I’d my MLIS for five years at that point, but was yet to work in a school library full time–I dreamed of what the 2014-2015 school year would be like. I’d be in a library! I’d be in charge! I’d get to do what I do best–get kids to love books! And I’d get to do it MY WAY. And, most importantly, I wouldn’t be working 50-60 hour weeks. I’d have time to take care of my family.
It was the worst of times.
But first, I had to get through it.
That spring was, possibly, even worse than the fall. My school continued to crumble around me, as kids realized that they were the ones in charge. (I hear it’s still crumbling, actually.) The administration pressed brazenly onward with a plan to regain control that clearly wasn’t working. I shut my classroom door and did my best. My strength as a teacher has always been winning kids with my personality, and that’s how I (barely) got through the last half of the year. I got them to like me, and they (usually) did what I wanted.
And I made it! Usually the end of the school year brings very bittersweet emotions for me, especially if I’m leaving the school, but for the first time in my life, I was nothing but celebratory on the last day of school. I was channeling Elsa, and there was no looking back.
Making it through last year was one of the greatest accomplishments of my professional life, sweetened by the anticipation of imagining what was to come on the other side. And you know what?
It’s even better than I imagined.