I believe I used the term "ranting" in my previous post, which implied a level of difficulty in my first year teaching. If I had pursued teaching just after college graduation 20 years ago, my first year would not have been easy. Becoming a first year teacher at the age of 40, with no time in the summer to prepare, while taking 2 master's classes from MSU, with 5 kids at home, a husband who coaches football, during cross country season, during play season... can you feel my level of stress rising?? It was not an easy year, BUT I loved the students and teaching.
In spite of being stress-paralyzed for the first semester, I finally began to figure things out. Unfortunately, it was after spring break when I felt as though I was getting a firm grasp on teaching standards and figuring out a way to combine the goals of test performance with helping students discover a love for reading. (Or at least begin to acknowledge that books aren't so bad after all!)
I began to plan my next year with much zeal and enthusiasm, knowing that I was going to make it work the second time around. I WOULD become a good teacher, and I had lost sleep in order to figure out how to make it happen.
The first week of summer, I received a text calling me into the office. I was told that I am going to be teaching sixth grade science and social studies instead of ELA this year.
Being moved out of a tested subject area when you have expressed a desire to remain is regarded among teachers as a demotion of sorts. Similar to being moved from varsity to JV or losing a starting position in a sport, I was placed on the "B" team. After my meeting, I left and cried and beat myself up for three days. I all I could hear was, "Well, your test scores WERE low," and "We have decided this [taking you out of a tested area] is what's best for the kids" replaying in my mind. In other words, "YOU FAILED."
I. Am. So. Prideful. There are a hundred reasons why I should have been thankful and excited, but I am full of pride and care entirely too much about the opinions of others. I could only focus on myself and beat myself up. Although I felt utterly humiliated, I had not quite humbled myself, and there is a difference.
To overcome my feelings of being a failure, I began to tell myself, "I know what all I overcame this year. I know how hard I worked. I know how much I LOVED my students. I know the plans I had to improve test scores for next year. And so it went.
And then I thought, "And I will NOT allow my self worth to be determined by others' opinions of me."
Wait. That isn't humility. That was just an ugly form of pridefulness. What WAS I going to allow my self worth to be defined by?? My opinion of myself??
Stop it, Heather! No! The fact is, I am a daughter of a King, who has been shown more mercy and grace than I can begin to describe. As a matter of fact, I have NO worth apart from Christ, because all that I do otherwise is tangled up in selfish motives and sin.
Christ is enough. I have to remind myself that God's kindness shows me my heart and leads me to repentance. He saved me when I was His enemy, and though I continue to fail and default to self-sufficiency, He loves me. Psalm 73:26 says, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." As I rest in Christ, things are put into an eternal perspective.
After my little pity party, I resolved to continue to do my work diligently, but more importantly, as unto the Lord... regardless of the subject area I am asked to teach.
It doesn't matter what I teach. What matters is that I honor the Lord in my work and that I do my best to show love, grace, compassion, and mercy to my students.
I mentioned 100 reasons why being moved out of ELA is a good thing... As I have changed my focus to where it needs to be, I am getting excited about the prospect of teaching science and social studies. I have met with the new ELA teacher, and we are already planning some cross curricular studies. I am hopeful that I will be able to help her in her first year of teaching. Less pressure about testing ad fewer writing assignments to grade will allow me to focus on becoming a better teacher and give me the flexibility to implement some project based learning ideas. I am most thankful that my second year teaching will include a little more time with my family.