I love that when I feel like sharing, I have this space to come to. No matter how long it’s been since I’ve decided to post, or how long it’s been since I’ve felt like I had anything useful to share, I can sign in, type away and publish for the world to see. Pretty cool, actually.
I’m back to teaching. Finally. Long story short, I became very, very ill last year in February and it took me months to get “better”. I put quotations around that word because my health improved steadily from about May onwards and, depending on who you talked to, I was better in June, or better in July, or better in August, or better in November. According to me, I’m still getting “better” because I’m continuing to improve my fitness level and haven’t yet reached the overall health goals I’m aspiring to. This is partly because it’s been too darned cold for the last 2 1/2 months to run outside (my go-to for getting in really good shape) and partly because the illness in the spring knocked my fitness levels way lower than they’ve been in awhile so it’ll take some time to get back to where I want to be.
Anyway, I should return to the ‘back to teaching’ story. I worked from September-December as a TTOC (teacher teaching on call, more commonly known as a substitute teacher) in the three schools in my little town and only started back in my classroom at the beginning of January. Now let me just say that, 20+ years into my career, to be a TTOC going in to all the classrooms K-12 in my town for four months was a very interesting experience. I stole…oops…borrowed many good ideas from my colleagues. I met almost every kid from the age of 4 to 18 in my community (many of whom have one or two parents that are my former students!). I learned so much about teaching and learning and the community and schools and leadership styles and kids that I don’t think a hundred blog posts could do the experience justice. Would I rather have been in my own classroom for those four months? Yes, absolutely. Did I make the best of the situation anyway? Yes, very much so. It was a good overview of the profession, of the system and of students. It brought perspective and depth and understanding. I didn’t realize how muddled and foggy my viewpoint had become.
One reason it was a good four months of learning and growing is that I found a way to fit my professional learning and work into my new philosophy on life. One of the contributing factors to my illness and to the fact that I was out of a regular classroom position for 9 months was that I needed to give my head a shake and make some major changes in my life. I’m hoping to share that journey in some way soon but for now I’d just like to say that I’m glad I got sick. I’m glad I went through one of the worst times of my life last year. It was a good thing for me. A very good thing. I think, in retrospect, that I was so far off the path of where I am supposed to be heading in life that I was lost, running in circles, way off in the distance far from where I should have been. Or maybe it was more like I was crashing over a waterfall. Oh! Falling over a cliff. Or maybe all three. Regardless, I was completely lost and my priorities were all messed up. I had to claw my way back to health one day at a time and rebuild my outlook on how to live the life I want to live. I had to find my way back to the path I was supposed to be on one step at a time. And patience with myself is not a strength so there were some good personal life lessons along the way. Looking back I realize that the experience was empowering and where I’m at now feels right so I believe the chaos and crash were necessary to set me straight.
But I digress. Again. No surprise, really, if you know me…
As I was saying, I’m back to teaching and I’m fortunate to be working with a lovely class of grade seven students. I was, admittedly, a tiny bit worried that after all the time off and all the time out of a regular classroom position that I’d forgotten how to teach. Or that I’d forget what to do. Or that I’d not be well enough to do it. But with my new outlook and new approach to life (which of course includes a new approach to how I fit teaching and work into my life) the last four weeks have flown by and they have been excellent! I love the job more than ever. And that’s saying something because those of you who know me, know how much I’ve always loved teaching kids every day. But it’s even better now.
It’s kind of crazy to me how much I’ve changed and how much my approach to everything has shifted. I think there were some who doubted my resilience and my ability to get back on track. But those people don’t know me very well. People who really know me aren’t surprised. Concerned and keeping an eye on me to make sure I’m still getting “better”, yes. Surprised at how well I’m doing and how far I’ve come? No. Those amazing people make up an important part of the reason why I am doing so well. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. But that’s another part of the story for another day. I’m not surprised I found my way back to the right path but there are still moments of disbelief, if that makes sense.
I’m feeling thankful, grateful and mentally energized in a way I’ve never felt before. And hopeful. Very hopeful. I guess that’s a good place to leave this story for today. Hoping each of you finds a reason to be thankful and grateful in the days ahead. Thanks for reading!