“It’s see you later Ms. H, not goodbye!” N used to tell me this every single day before I hugged her and dropped her off at the bus to go home for the day. Even though she said it to me everyday, I always forgot to make sure to say “see you later.” But on Tuesday, my last day as a teacher, my last day as a Teach For America Corps member, my last day as N’s 5th grade teacher, I remembered to look at her in her eyes and say “See you later N, you know I love you.” She grabbed me, gave me a huge hug, and said, “See you later Ms. H.”
I’ve been waiting and waiting to write my last post on this blog. I almost feel like I should have done it sooner because the longer I wait the more I find myself at lost what to say. My words seemed at the tip of my tongue for a few weeks, but now they feel more at the pit of my heart.
This past Tuesday proved to be a huge victory in my life story. These past 2 years have been challenging, painful, joyful, unique, once-in-a-lifetime, tear-ridden, but most of all special…..to me. As my students exited the door, a sigh of relief was made. I felt like I was able to take a deep breath that I hadn’t been able to in 2 years. There was a moment of silence. A moment where I looked around and couldn’t believe the past 2 years of my life. A moment where I stopped and prayed to the LORD, “Many days in this school I’m not sure if I did what You put me here to do, but I hope there was at least one kid that in 2, 3, 4, 5, or however many years will put their whole effort in finding me, wherever I am, just to say, ‘Ms. H thank you for teaching me and not walking out of my life, even on the hard days.’ ”
I look back and think about year 1. Lesson planning and trying to learn how to be a teacher was awful. Thank the LORD behavior management became natural to me otherwise I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through year 1. I did what I promised I would do at least 1 of my 2 years as a Corps Members – take my students to a University for a field trip. But most of all, my relationship with my students was amazing. I have continued to talk to a huge chunk of those students and many of them have visited me at school.
I look back and think about year 2. Lesson planning and teaching as a whole was SO much easier. It probably took me 1/10 of the time to get my stuff ready for the week. I was able to get weeks and months of lessons planned in advance. Behavior management was still easy for me. But something was missing. My relationships with my students seemed different. It didn’t seem as great as year 1 and I spent most of the year in denial about it for the simple fact that this group of students was actually, as a whole, smarter than my group last year. Dramatic growth seemed more realistic in my mind. I had a few INTENSIVELY chronic students, ones that after about 6 months, I honestly didn’t feel like I had anything left to give. And neither did the rest of the students in my classroom. I spent many days at my desk after school was dismissed thinking I could give just a little more effort to that student the next day. But then the next day popped up, and because being a teacher means dealing with a million unexpected things a day, I couldn’t give anymore because they weren’t giving any back.
Many people asked me if it had to do with the fact that I knew I would be done with my commitment after this year. “Does it make it harder to stay motivated?” And truthfully, my answer was no. At least up until maybe the last two weeks of school. But I did reach a place of helplessness that I hadn’t felt before. Where I knew I was running out of time and no matter what I tried, it wasn’t working for those students. Administration was new this year, which added to this as well. I had moments where I really had to remember that I can’t save every kid, or honestly, maybe any. That the LORD is going to have to be the bigger answer behind of all this. And I suppose on my hardest “manual labor days,” that upset me. I’ve spent a large portion of my life planting seeds, taking care of the plants, but never getting a chance to watch it blossom. And on those days, the LORD had to meet me literally on the ground reminding me that I’m not always, and most of the time, going to see the fruit of my labor. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.
When you press “pause,” on a remote, you’re giving it a chance to sit still while you go do whatever else it is that you need to do. Sometimes you come back and “resume play” and other times you realize you’re not going to watch it right now, press “stop,” and turn it off. I titled this last blog post “The Pause on Being Ms. H,” because as of right now I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to teaching. I was positive for about 2 years I was going to, but I’ve spent a lot of time this year praying about where I need to be and what I need to be doing. I suppose I’m “giving it a chance to sit still while I go do whatever else it is I need to do.” Maybe I’m going to come back and resume play or…maybe not.
I have been applying for jobs like nobody’s business. I’ve been proactive and tried to stay encouraged. But this last month or so has been an emotional roller coaster. 2 years ago I felt like I was getting thrown into an open sea, barely able to swim, and without a life jacket. This past month or so, I feel like I’m going through a similar experience, except with the “real world.” I never had to go through this phase of not having a job because TFA happened straight out of college. I’ve had a salary, health insurance, and all other aspects of what it takes to have a functional life. But not now. And it has been incredibly scary. People have been asking me how joyful and relieved I feel to have what will probably be the most challenging 2 years of my life under my belt. Well, right now I’m not really sure because I was thrown from one extreme of emotion to another. The conscious decision to stay patient, positive, and proactive gets harder each day.
Let alone, I’m still trying to process what in the WORLD just happened these past 2 years. It’s just. A lot.
But here I am, 2 years later – alive, healthy, at a new place in my life, new friendships, new people in my life, new relationships, completing 2 years of being a teacher, and finishing up a Master’s degree. I’ll never forget April 4, 2011. Sitting at Clinton Lake Park and clicking on the TFA acceptance letter on my phone to find out I would be teaching Elementary Education in Kansas City. Followed by meeting Molly in Wal-Mart parking lot in complete tears telling her “I don’t care if God called me to do this, I don’t want to.” And 20 minutes later that quote changed to…
“I don’t care what I want to do, God called me to do this.”
What a blessing it was to put a “pause” on the rest of my life and learn once again what it looks like to be a servant of the LORD. To think about every moment that has happened in Kansas City the past 2 years that would have NEVER happened if I wouldn’t have been here. To think about how this has been His plan all along. Not mine.
Now I get a chance to sit and be with the LORD before the next opportunity comes and it’s time to hit “resume play.”
To all the people in my life the past 2 years who have said, “You can do it,” who have listened to me vent, wiped my tears, celebrated on the victorious days, and reminded me, the LORD sent me – Thank you. WE have made it TOGETHER. And I am here because of YOU.
This chapter is now over and it’s time to start a new one. I can only imagine what’s to come.
See you later.