The night before I returned from my suspension I was having a major, well maybe not major, anxiety attack or just the typical Jewish neurosis about actually teaching a class. It had been nearly 3 years since I had stood in front of a classroom and taught. Longer than that if one counts teaching with any confidence.
The 2012-2013 school year had been hell for me. My former (THANK GOD!) principal, DR Alison Coviello had done everything she could to destroy my confidence and do what she could to make me feel like I a horrible, rotten, no good bucket of road apples. So of course there was trepidation returning to the classroom.
But I got my chops back and it was like riding a bike. I realized I can do it still.
I spent the next six weeks in District 10 and even though I had some anxiety filled moments, all was good. And I learned something so valuable, or maybe re-learned it, or just had it affirmed. You know what I mean.
Dang it is those kids that make this all worth while. And when you least expect it, and from the kids you least expect it from, you get those jaw dropping moments.
My next to last day at the school in District 10 I subbed or covered a 3rd grade class. I got to know the teacher pretty well when I was with another 3rd grade class for 2 weeks while their teacher was out on maternity.
I think it was after lunch. Yeah, it had to be after lunch, lunch is at 10:35 in that school so the entire day is after lunch I received a note from a student just out of the blue(Identifying details have been redacted) (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
I was floored. I had done nothing special, at least in my mind, to deserve this. I was really touched and still am. But there was more.
About 5 minutes later I got this (CLICK TO ENLARGE);
So let's flash forward to last week. I left the friendly confines of District 10 and returned back to my old District 7 haunting grounds, in fact to a school I used to service when I was a staff developer.
I clustered and there was one 5th grade class that I had every day, a class with a most challenging student.
From day one, he tried to did everything he could to get noticed and to push my buttons.
Thursday as I was leaving the class, he handed me this (CLICK TO ENLARGE);
What I feel for the first time in a long time is the ability to be myself in a classroom. Yeah, I know, this can all change and I might have some horrible moments, but I can't think like that. If I do I can't be what I want to be as a ATR/Sub/Teacher.
It's hard being an ATR. It's tough walking into a class for the first time and the kids don't know you. It's hard as an ATR when you have to pick up a class in the morning when you will be with them all day. It's just plain hard. But it can be rewarding.
I am looking at it this way.
When I became a staff developer in 2000 someone asked me why would I want to be working out of the district office. I responded that by being in the DO I can work with and help more students than I could in a just being in one school. That's how I am looking at being an ATR.
I am going to keep these letters. I am going to use them for those days that don't go well or to remind myself that I came out the better person after 3 years.
It's nice to know that I made a bit of a difference for a brief time.