Saturday, October 4, 2014

A New Teaching Adventure for Me

*This is one of those LONG posts with lots of words. Readers who "read" for pictures might be disappointed. I just needed to record everything the way I remember it :)

Those tens of you who read the blog might remember when I did the post at the end of the school year about me, Torri, Judy, and Sarah. We were all going in different directions for the upcoming school year (2014-2015) and I was reminiscing about the years we had been teaching together. At the end of the school year, the plan was that Torri was moving to Kindergarten, Judy was retiring, Sarah was going to teach at another school in our area, and I was staying in my same position at the same school. Like I said, that was the plan...

During the last few weeks of May and the month of June I was busy working on the school yearbook, going on vacations, working VBS, working in the garden, and spending all the moments in between with Eli. I didn't even think about going up to school or working in my classroom. I wanted to prolong my summer with Eli as much as possible. July came and I still was not in classroom mode. I went to see my family for Jameson's birth and soaked up every minute with them. I came back home and decided that I probably needed to go to my classroom and start getting things together. I honestly wasn't looking forward to it. I was missing Sarah, Judy, and Torri but that wasn't just the end of it. I was very nervous about everything-my new teaching partner, all the new teachers in my hall, this new curriculum we were being told we had to teach, and to top it all off I had just recently found out that I couldn't drop off or pick up Eli anymore. Because of our new start time and end time at our school, there wasn't going to be anyway that I could get Eli to his school in the morning and be on time to get back to mine. I was very depressed about that, but there wasn't anything I could do to change it so I decided to make the best of it and move on. Eli would enjoy Josh getting to take him to school in the mornings. As far as the afternoons went, I still didn't have a plan but knew something would eventually work out. 

I got back from Jameson's birth and decided to go up to my school that following week to start working. Eli came with me and we really only piddled in the room for a couple hours each day. I still had several more weeks before school started to really get my room together and I didn't want to spend it all in my classroom when I could be doing things with Eli. On Tuesday, July 15th, I came home from my classroom and Eli and I went to the garden to pick lima beans. (Our norm during the summer.) The weather was unusually cool and nice so we took our huge bushel basket of beans and went to shell them on the front porch. Josh came home from work and joined me while Eli played in the front yard. Our neighbor, Shannon, walked over with her kids and started talking to us. She had just finished her first year of teaching at Eli's school and she was telling me just how great the atmosphere was compared to the public school. She mentioned how excited she was that Sarah was going to be there with her in the fall and that made me just a little sad. She asked if I had started getting things ready for my upcoming year at my school and I started to tell her how I was very apprehensive about my year and hadn't really gotten excited about it yet. She jokingly said that I should come join her at Eli's school and I just laughed it off. There was no way I could change schools in the middle of July. I did tell her that I would probably go see the principal at her school at some point during the year just to start networking and getting to know her in case I did decide to switch at the end of the year. 

The next day was Wednesday. After a lazy morning, Eli and I rode our bikes to my school so we could work in my classroom. We stayed there for about two hours or so and when we were getting back on our bikes to ride home I received a text message from Shannon. It said that the teachers at the school had just had a meeting and realized that there was a need for another teacher. Shannon mentioned my name to the principal and the principal said that if I wanted the job it was mine on the spot. No interview needed. SAY WHAT?!?! I almost dropped my phone. I just couldn't believe it. I told Shannon to let her principal know that I was interested (just to get some more information about the position) and the next thing I know I was getting a call from the principal. My entire bike ride home I talked to the principal. She told me that if I accepted I'd be teaching fourth grade with (and this just took the cake for me) my best friend, Sarah. I mean is that not crazy?? My stomach was doing acrobatics the whole way home. I told the principal that I needed to take the weekend to think and pray about it, but I would definitely let her know by Monday. 

I called Josh to tell him and he was just as shocked as I was. We just couldn't get over how this was all happening without me even applying for the job, meeting the principal, interviewing, and so much more. I told some family and friends about the opportunity and told them to just pray that things would work out the way God wanted and for me to know what to do. I started praying and making my list of Pro's and Con's for each job. Josh and I decided that I needed some more information so the next day I went and met with the principal to find out more about the curriculum, the position, the salary, the benefits, and all that other kind of stuff. We walked around the school and she showed me the classroom that would be mine if I accepted. I was getting really excited, but told her I'd still take the weekend to make sure this was where I felt God was leading me. 

After making my list of pro's and con's, praying, and discussing with Josh where the best teaching  position was for our family, it was really quite simple the see what my choice needed to be. All the pro's of staying in my current position were quite small and the con's were rather large. On the flip side, all the pro's of going to the new school were quite extensive and the con's were quite small. This was one of those times in my life where I felt like God didn't just open a window, he opened every window and door in the house and pushed me in. I felt that this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing and that was saying something because the planner in me was FREAKING OUT that I had to move a classroom and set up a new classroom in two weeks. 

Sarah, who was in Ohio at the time, sent me a text out of the blue Friday letting me know that she had just found out there was a position available at the school if I wanted it. (She had no idea that I'd already been offered the position, met with the principal, and toured the school.) I told her I knew about the position because I'd already met with the principal and she freaked out. Neither one of us had ever imagined that after teaching together for 10 years we'd get to stay together at a new school teaching in a new grade. It was just crazy that we were going to get to stay together.

My only hesitation was breaking the the news to my current principal. He and I had been teaching at the same school for eight years. We had a good rapport and I was very pleased with his leadership and vision for the school. I told Josh it was like I was breaking up with him and that gave my stomach knots! By Monday, I was very sure of my choice. Josh came home to watch Eli so I could go break the news to my principal. His first words when he saw me were "Come in Mrs. Wilson! We'll talk as long as you're not resigning, retiring, or bringing me more kids for your classroom because right now you have 26 first graders." (That was confirmation itself when I heard that. 26 first graders without ANY HELP?? Oh my word!) I guess he could tell by my face (a poker player I am not) because he immediately quit joking and got serious. I let him know everything that had transpired since the week before and told him that Josh and I felt like me changing positions was where we felt God was leading me and where we felt it'd be best for our family. He was very gracious and understanding. He didn't make me feel like a traitor or anything for which I was very glad. He even said that as long as he was principal I could come back anytime if things didn't work out. That made me feel SO much better. I came home and told Josh the good news as well as my family and friends who knew what was going on. I was so excited about my new job! (I was also scared to death about how I was going to get everything done in two short weeks, but I knew I could make it happen!)

By Wednesday afternoon, my first grade classroom was cleared out. I worked hard for two days to box up 10 years of my life. It was very weird clearing out my classroom, but I didn't have any regret at all. I had 10 wonderful, amazing years teaching so many first graders. I met teaching friends who are now friends for my life. We shared so many wonderful memories and I'm thankful for each year we had together. I was sad to leave the friends at my school, but I was excited about the new adventure in front of me. 

One last look at my 1st grade classroom

I loved my room :) 

By Monday of the next week, I was in my new 4th grade classroom. EEEEK! I was so scared and so nervous about going from teaching first graders to teaching fourth graders, but before I could even begin to worry about that, I had to get this room ready. I had to "Amandafy" the room and make it me :) Here are the BEFORE shots. 

Here are the AFTER shots. My new principal said I could paint, decorate, and do whatever I wanted to make my room look nice. It took a full two weeks to make it all happen, but I did it :) Whew!

I've now spent 8 weeks in my new classroom, at my new school, with my new fourth grade students. Lots of new! I am loving it so far. The sense of community and family is so apparent everywhere I go on campus. It's one of the reasons why we chose to send Eli to this school three years ago. Now I'm proud to say I'm part of that family. I love being trusted as a professional to do my job. I'm so thankful that I don't have to walk the tightrope and do "dog and pony shows" to prove to people that I can teach. I'm thankful that my teaching worth is not equivalent to my kid's scores on a standardized test. I'm so very thankful that God's word is spoken here every single day. I get to pray openly with my students anytime I feel the need. I LOVE THAT! I love that I get to invest in the lives of my fourth grade students and meet new people. I love that my bestie is here with me. I love that we can navigate these waters together :) I know it's not going to always be rainbows and roses though, but I'm thankful for my new school family that is there to support me through it all. 


Louisiana Bride said...

I can't even imagine! Mom atually ended up being asked a few weeks ago to move to VLE and teach a class of repeat 1st graders.

I moved to a new school this year and am in love, but the speaking of God openly just isn't there since it's still public school. When I hear my private school teacher friends talk about the atmosphere it's hard to imagine. Enjoy your year and all the years to come! Especially since Eli is there too:)

Anonymous said...

Such a blessing - God in control! I'm so happy you are there with Eli and loving it. You would be a great teacher no matter what school or grade you teach because you care about education and kids! Love and prayers for a great school year this year and all the years to come.

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