It’s not really any secret that this year has been one I have been dreading. I love teaching- I really do. I have wanted to be a teacher since I can remember. Playing school with my imaginary students in my bedroom that was decorated like a classroom is the backdrop of my childhood.
But the five year teacher burn out thing…It’s a real thing. My eight year old self surely had a lot of papers to grade, students to get on to, and things to teach. But I certainly had no idea about RTI paperwork. Or committee meetings. Or PLCS. Or parent conferences. Or ARD meetings. Or district mandates. While I am sure I had plenty of notes to write to parents in my pretend classroom, I didn’t have the concern of emails popping in my inbox every twelve seconds. I was also a one-woman act in my imaginary classroom. I didn’t have to work with other people or collaborate or compromise. I also didn’t have people telling me how or what to teach and when.
When I think back to my little classroom on Cymbal Court, I was free! I could be creative and the sky was my limit.
In the last few months I have been learning that that creative part still exists deep down in me. And as I delve deeper into this teaching career I feel less and less creative and more and more restricted into this tiny little box.
“You must write your lessons this way,” “You have to include an objective that matches the objective of every other team member,” “You have to include this many minutes for this subject and that subject.”
I feel like Room 152 is this tiny square box that resembles the tiny square box teaching has put me into, creatively speaking.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my sweet kiddos. God knew that I was struggling last year and he gave me a class of AMAZING kids this year and I am SO thankful! But I feel like teaching isn’t about the kids anymore. It’s about these lists of rules I must follow.
And I’m just done. I don’t want to do it anymore. I am only four weeks in and I can already feel my heart begging for Thanksgiving break. And Christmas break. And Spring Break. Suuuuummmmmmeeeeerrrrrrr. I’m ready for you. (As I sit out here on the patio in the sweltering sun typing this.)
My brain and my heart are going ninety miles an hour with all of these ideas and dreams and goals I have. All of them revolving around education and kids and helping other teachers. But I feel like my passion to be in the classroom is slowly dwindling.
But what I have also felt in this time of struggle is God’s presence. I literally wake up every morning and ask for God to give me the strength to get through today. “Just today God, please!” Because that’s all I can do, is look to today, conquer today, and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.
Lately there has been a theme I have been hearing all around me. And it’s to be present in the day to day. To be present in the small things, in the mundane things.
It started with a podcast called The Glorious in the Mundane by Christy Nockels. Her voice is so poetic (which I guess makes sense considering she is a famous Christian songwriter and singer…). And each morning on my drive to work I listen to her peaceful calming voice telling story after story about the glorious things she finds in the midst of the mundane parts of life.
See, I think we mess up when we keep looking for the next big thing. I know I do. I have all these goals and dreams I want to fulfill and I just keep thinking “If only I could do this full time” or “If I was able to do this, then this would be better.” When I spend all my time pining for the future, I am missing what God is offering me right here in the present.
I have also been reading Melanie Shankle’s new book, Church of the Small Things. It releases October 3rd (and you should totally preorder your copy now!) but I signed up to be a part of her launch team and therefore received an advance copy of her book to read, share with others about, and write reviews on. I was excited about being on the launch team and getting a copy of her book early. She is hilarious and makes me laugh and maybe, just maybe, I’ll somehow get to meet her because I am on her launch team?!? I know it’s ridiculous. But I am just being honest.
Anyways, I think God had maybe had a bit of a more purposeful plan in getting access to her book during the craziness of starting a new school year. A school year when I really didn’t want to go back to the classroom. A school year when our principal up and left two weeks before the start of school. A school year when our campus was put on an IR plan indicating that we did so poorly the year before, we must step up our game before we could potentially lose our jobs. A school year when a new principal was thrown in THE DAY SCHOOL STARTED and is trying to figure out her job while leading a campus that is, quite frankly, in the hole right now… It’s all just a mess. And it’s a mess I didn’t and don’t want to be in.
But here I am.
Melanie’s book title didn’t make sense to me at first. Probably because it was summer break and my brain wasn’t into the whole thinking thing. “Church of the Small Things” with a giant elephant on the cover…hmmm…
Well, I figured it out.
She writes about exactly what Christy podcasts about. The small things really are the big things that make up the life we live.
In the midst of this year where I am struggling, God is providing little nuggets of encouragement that remind me this “small place” that I am in is preparing me for the “big place” I want to be. And these “small moments” of reminding kids that blowing their nose means “blowing as hard as you can so you can get all the junk out of it” are what makes up the mosaic of my life. #teacherlife
“You know what we all do when we sit around thinking about our Fantasy Someday? We miss the holiness of this moment we’re living right now. There will never be another one like it. And even if that makes you think “THANK GOD, BECAUSE MY LIFE CURRENTLY STINKS,” there are still lessons to be learned, character to be built, and stories that will be told about where you are right now. God takes all of it- the mundane and the ugly, the clean couch and the wine spills, the ordinary and the occasional extraordinary- and when we allow him to add his grace, his mercy, and his outrageous love, he adds a brushstroke there and some color here and so paints it all into one glorious work of art, one that only he can achieve through us where we are right in that moment- in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our classrooms, in our communities and world.”- Church of the Small Things, Melanie Shankle
When I spend my time wishing away my current situation, I miss the moments I am currently in. The random hug and smile from a student just because. The funny thing a kid says when I am in the middle of teaching. The innocence of a kid wearing a Titos Vodka bandanna to school on Talk Like a Pirate Day. The warm fuzzy feeling I have when music is playing over the speaker and kids are working and singing along.
Teaching is a part of who I am. It’s where I am. It will forever be in my “tapestry of life.” And it’s in these moments that I have to consciously choose to be present or else I’ll miss it all.
“It’s the moments that don’t necessarily take our breath away at the time that often become the ones that matter most. When we look back on our days, we realize such moments are the very threads that make up the tapestry of a life. Taken together, these seemingly ordinary threads of joy, sadness, conflict, and laughter make something extraordinary. With every small thread, God is carefully and thoughtfully weaving a masterpiece.” – Church of the Small Things, Melanie Shankle
When I think back to college, you know what doesn’t come to mind? CLASSES! Or walking across the stage on graduation day.
The first thought is usually this party Jamie, Tiffany, and I went to one summer dubbed “The Summer of the Four Loko.” And then it’s the drive through Taco Bell where Ashtyn and I spent way too much time and money and where I tried to befriend Michelle, the drive through lady. I think about the house I lived in. The arguments and fights and friendships I messed up. It’s the ADPi date parties with blind dates and the boy who broke my heart. It’s the Spring Break trip to Gulf Shores. The countless dinners at Garcia’s. I wouldn’t trade a single one of those moments because they are what made me who I am.
And I think about that in my life now. I want so badly to make all my dreams a reality and chase after my goals. But I am not there yet. I am here.
I know that teaching is not my forever thing, I can’t explain it- I just have this peace that God has something else planned for my life. And I KNOW that when that day comes that teaching is no longer the center of my world, I will miss the innocent moments of kids being kids. Hell, I *might* even wish I was still teaching.
Until then, I can continue to hope and dream and make goals and create all I want. But if I completely miss out on the moments I am in RIGHT NOW. The places He has me RIGHT NOW. Then don’t I miss it all?
You can snag your copy of Melanie’s new book, Church of the Small Things, by visiting her website. If you do so before October 3rd then you can also get access to all of her pre-order bonuses. (And, I think it’s even on sale right now!)
Until next time,