I’ve had the opportunity to run two half-marathons in my life. The one thing I was always told by my more experienced runner friends is the pain undergone once you hit mile 10. There is something about miles 10-13 in a half-marathon that, for at least newbie runners like myself, is absolutely exhausting, painful, and challenging. Because of that, both times I had people by my side to run those last 3 with me. In both races, my friends literally pulled me at some point, put their hands on my back, pushed me forward, and told me, “Do not stop…DO NOT STOP. You are almost there.”
I have roughly 31 days left of my teaching career…or at least Teach For America commitment. It’s my second year, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the end is coming faster than I am able to fathom. 2nd year planning is easier, I have a grip on my social life, and I just flat out know more about what I am doing.
But let me just tell you how I have felt day-to-day for about the past 2 months….
Like I’m running miles 10-13 in a half-marathon. I’m exhausted, it feels painful, and I feel like I’m being challenged just as much as I was in October of my 1st year. I don’t know what it is. I haven’t been able to fully understand why when the light at the end of the tunnel is there, that showing up everyday isn’t a piece of cake.
I have more intensely chronic kids than I did last year and I realized about 2 months ago that my relationships with my kids last year is remarkably different than my students this year. For whatever reason, something hasn’t clicked with my students this year. They’re managed, they’re learning, and truthfully most of them are friends. But the few intensely chronic kids I have, are stealing an immense amount of optimism that I feel I can usually find. Anytime one of them is gone my classroom is a different place. One less kid is bothering and creating mess with other students and it gives the rest of the class the ability to focus and take care of what they need to do.
But most of all, one thing specifically tears me apart. Last year “L” became the kid that I showed up to school for everyday. Post-Christmas break I remember thinking, “I’m showing up for her today. I’m the best, most stable thing she has right now. And I will do whatever I can to keep her safe.” I have a lot of amazing kids there year, but honestly, there is no one like “L.” No one who is bringing me to school everyday. No one who when I am not there is constantly on my mind wishing I could be there for them.
I came into this job responding to the LORD’s calling for me. “And I said here I am, send me,” just like my blog is titled and my first post. What I fear most is that I didn’t leave the mark I needed to this year with these kids like I did with the ones last year. Do I really feel like the LORD can look at me and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” at the end of this? I don’t really know and I’m not okay with that. One of my best friends recently told me, “You know maybe this wasn’t completely about these kids, but what the LORD has taught you and done for you in these past 2 years,” and I’m starting to think that may be more and more correct.
So the truth of the matter is all you Corps Members out there, the second year is going to be immensely better for you. I promise. You will have a hang of things, you will have more reign in your school, and you will just overall feel more confident. But do not get discouraged if things don’t end up quite like the first year. And you even realize that maybe some things about first year was better. And most of all…..
My time is almost up. And I am completely positive that it’s time for me to move on to the next stage of my life. Mornings still creep in and are rough. And many times I have days that I wish by too quickly.
But remember why you started and remember why your kids are the way they are, why they have trust issues, why they’re academically behind, why they act out…..
And don’t quit.
The race is almost done.