This weekend is the very last weekend of the summer *stifles sobs*. On Monday, I will be greeted with 150 smiling faces in rotation, all filled with as much trepidation and anticipation as mine will be.
This year, it’s going to be different for me because I chose to move schools after the whole being laid off thing got taken back just as quick as a toddler grabs back a toy he’s offered to someone else after he’s changed his mind. I had the choice to go back to my old school, but instead of sticking somewhere where I was well-known and had built my reputation as a good teacher, I decided to branch out and move to a high school a) because I’ve always wanted to teach high school and b) I felt like I had already reached the peak (or close enough to it) at my old school and I was ready for a new challenge.
Oofda. Did I ever get a challenge. Firstly, I discovered that I would be teaching 7th and 8th grade (not quite the high school experience I was envisioning) along with some 9th grade classes. That’s right. Three preps. Considering that last year I taught 8th across the board, that in and of itself was enough to make me think that perhaps I should opted for comfort over novelty.
Secondly, not only will I have three preps, but the middle school classes are designed to prepare the students to enter the IB Diploma Programme in 11th and 12th grade that has just started at this high school, which means that they need to have TOP-NOTCH instruction in an inquiry based setting.
Now, in my previous schools, if you were able to get the kids to behave and respect you and also learn something along the way, that was enough to get you through (not to mention middle school is less rigorous than high school). I have my relationship building tools with my kids down pat, but I have not yet had a chance to really test my actual TEACHING capabilities with kids who are, shocker, eager to learn.
Of course, I wouldn’t be teaching if I thought that my kids didn’t learn from me. But my focus has always been on more of the social-emotional piece for my kids, because that’s where I saw the most need. Now, on top of preparing for three different classes each day, I need to make sure that my lessons are interesting, high-level, and relevant.
ON TOP OF the academic side, there is the reality that I have no real support system at this school. I chose this school specifically because my old principal worked there as well as several old coworkers who moved there during the last couple years, and because of the IB programme; being trained in that will be invaluable for my own skill set and my ability to move anywhere should I chose to ever leave California (doubtful, but possible).
However, all of my old coworkers have since formed new bonds or tighter bonds with their fellow middle school cohorts, and I left our first day of meetings feeling a bit adrift in the sea of it all.
Now, at this point, I could either curl up in a ball and wish my hardest to turn back time and go back to comfort and familiarity, OR I could narrow my eyes, set my shoulders, and prepare to knock this shit out of the park.
When it comes down to it, challenges are the spice of life. Think about it. Every single thing that is good is challenging at first. Learning to walk? There’s a reason diapers are so fluffy. Marriage? There’s a reason counselors make bank. Parenting? It’s a wonder that we’re still alive as a species.
Challenges make you grow. They make you question things. They make you stretch yourself in ways that you never thought possible and then stretch a little more. You may chose your challenges or have your challenges thrust upon you, but the outcome is still the same: you get better.
An unchallenged life is truly an unlived life. Think back on all the times you have grown and changed as a person. Usually, it was the direct result of a challenge to your security, belief system, or familiarity with something, and when you look back you wouldn’t have it any other way.
The thing is, you WILL get what you ask for if the Universe knows you are ready (and sometimes even if it knows you’re not). Most of the time we have no idea what we’re really asking for until it comes to us and then we realize that we have called something into reality that we aren’t quite sure we actually want, but by that time it’s too late.
Most of the time, however, these unexpected manifestations help us hone what we really want, and build up strength to get through the tough times of life. I wanted nothing more than to get married young, and boy, did I get what I wished for even though it was quite possibly the worst decision of my entire life.
Yet, I’m thankful for this challenge that I overcame, because there have been so many times I’m able to share my experience with someone who is going through almost the exact same thing, and it is so gratifying to be able to see them relax and know that I truly understand what they’re going through.
If your life is on autopilot, choose a challenge for yourself or open yourself up to the Universe providing one for you. While the temptation to stay in the cocoon is quite strong, remember that no one looks twice at a brown lump hanging from a twig, yet a butterfly can capture the attention of even the most hardened of hearts. You are that butterfly. All you have to do is narrow your eyes, set your teeth, and never stop pushing until your wings are free.
And then, friends….you are free to FLY.