word of the day: worn [wohrn] a) diminished in value or usefulness through wear, use, or handling b) wearied; exhausted.
If you haven't yet read this post yet, you probably should before reading further.
It feels like everything has come full circle. I left my room how I found it a year ago before turning it into a classroom. It's no longer shiny and new, but worn and well-used.
Boxes pile the wall.
Walls stand bare.
Shelves sit empty.
And now, here I sit, on Trinity's campus in Illinois. It seems fitting to reflect upon the past year here, where it really all began. Again, full circle.
People keep asking me how my first year of teaching went. The only really honest answer I can give them is, "It was really hard."
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change the past year for anything. I'm lucky enough to have a job that allows me to impact the lives of teenagers on a daily basis. I'm lucky enough to have a job that changes daily, throws new challenges in my path, and always gives me something to look forward to. I'm lucky enough to have a job that I love.
But still, that doesn't change the fact that this year was really hard.
I'm worn in more ways than one. I'm worn in the sense that I now have one year of teaching under my belt. I made it through the curriculum, the tests, and the endless amounts of papers and paragraphs I found myself reading. I'm worn because I've now been through the system on the other end. I've seen the ins and outs of how it works to be a teacher and have experienced the things you never see when you're on the student side of things.
I'm also worn in the sense that I'm exhausted. Teaching is no 9 to 5 job. In fact, I'd say it's more like a 24/7 kind of job because there were very few days or nights that school wasn't on my mind. Sometimes it was the stress of not feeling prepared for the next day or finishing a lesson plan at 9:30 p.m. Sometimes it was the stress of having 153 papers to grade or feeling behind in updating my grade book. Sometimes it was the stress of feeling like I mismanaged a behavioral situation or misspoke to a student about who knows what. Sometimes, in all honesty, it was the stress of feeling like I just couldn't do it. Like I wasn't cut out for it. Like I didn't really have any idea what I was doing.
And, really, sometimes I didn't, but that's just between you and me...
Time was a constant theme this past year because I felt like I never had enough of it. School consumed so much of my life that my relationships got pushed to the back burner. I never lost sight of the fact that they were there, but there was a steady whistle in my ear telling me that they were ready to be moved from high heat.
Jake, when you read this, know that I couldn't have made it through this year without your patience, honesty, and support. For all the times I cried for no apparent reason, you comforted me and affirmed me. You encouraged me and reminded me of where my focus should be. I know this year wasn't easy for you either, and I'm thankful for your constant presence.
This summer is already glorious. Yesterday, I woke up at 10:00 a.m. because there was nothing I had to wake up for. Last night I read 45 pages of a book that I want to read for no other reason than I want to read it. Today, I can go through the day without thinking of all the things I "should probably be doing".
But, let me tell you, I am already looking forward to getting back into it in August. I think the wear ultimately manifests itself into wisdom, and I already see how much better I'm going to be at all of this next year. The challenges will all still exist, but it's enough for me to know that I'm exactly where God wants me right now.
And, even if that wasn't good enough, I get to take a new classroom and turn it from bare to shiny all over again. Now that's just flat out fun.