The Finale is Not the Finale

The dust has settled.

Grades are inputted.

The classroom is cleaned.

Meetings are done.

The school year has officially ended, and with it, one of the most challenging years in recent memory has finally come to a close.  Done.  Finished.

When others asked me if I was ready for summer to begin, I’d normally nod enthusiastically and exclaim, “YES!!  I am!!!”  The coming of June brought with it the promise of sleeping in late (well, 6am is late when the kiddos normally jump on our beds at 5am) and being free to spend the day frolicking at the beach or park.  June was within my reach, and now that it is finally here, I ACTUALLY MISS SCHOOL.

Let me explain.

Lets go back to one year ago.  Ever since I subbed for a fellow AP teacher two years or so ago, I really wanted the opportunity to instruct seniors in English, AP specifically.  And so with my Department Head’s graciousness, I was given the opportunity to teach one section of the rigorous class this year.  I spent last summer day dreaming about dissecting Othello and T.S. Eliot with the students, engaging in lively class discussions on the thematic elements of Things Fall Apart, and reading pages of engaging literary analysis about Holden Caufield.

But then the school year started, and I was drowning.  The time it took to prep for three classes was overwhelming, and without going into details, many other conflicts in and out of the classroom occurred.

It was a perfect storm, really.  Adding on teaching an additional English class (AP English Literature, mind you) to the already hectic mix of advising a senior class (which meant I was helping organize the annual senior trip, graduation, baccalaureate, and other random events), planning my normal English 9 and 10 courses, and attempting to keep my family, church, and lifting life also thriving was ridiculous.  So by December, I was already looking forward to June.

And now that June has finally arrived, I wish I could go back in time.  My Department Head and I had a grand conversation this afternoon about the elements of this last school year that were great and those areas in the classroom that can use improvement.  Through our talk I realized that those instances when I felt like I wasn’t “doing well” were actually times of growth.  Personal development (yeah, I know that’s a clichéd, catch phrase kind of term) is cultivated during times of trial.  How can I improve in teaching, my relationships with others, in the path God has placed me on, if I don’t ever feel like I’m failing?  How can I actually be a more effective and efficient teacher if I never become vulnerable and open my eyes to those areas where I need correction and redirection?

Those moments in January when I felt frustration and anger welling up inside of me because of something a student or co-worker said?  I now see how God was using those moments to show me where I can grow in patience and understanding.  Those times when I doubted my ability to effectively teach a grammar concept or book theme?  I now see how God was using those moments to make me reliant on Him and not my own knowledge and intelligence.

Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, my not feeling in control of what was happening during this past school year was insanely irritating and frustrating.  There were many nights when I’d complain and complain and complain to my husband about a myriad of school-related issues.  But you know what?  It was during those times when I DIDN’T have things all figured out that I was actually growing–as a teacher, a co-worker, and a follower of Christ.

So summer, I’m glad you’re here.  I look forward to the time I get to spend with my son at the park and the mid-day lunch dates with friends.  But summer, I also can’t wait for the next school year.  I am eagerly counting down those days until August 1st, when the start of the new semester begins, and I can actually share how God grew me in these past nine months.

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