I know, this title is a little dramatic, but it was how I felt during my third year of teaching. I wanted to give up. I felt alone.
It was an exciting year, I had two wonderful years of teaching experience under my belt. Our brand new school building was opening. I just got married, and we just bought a house. The outlook could of not have been better. Little did I know, it was going to be the worst, and best teaching year of my career.
You know when you get the “perfect storm” of students. The group that all the regular strategies just do not work for. Well, this was THE group, times ten. Many times I felt like giving up. Maybe this isn’t the career for me. I would go home and lay on the couch and fall asleep at 5pm. I was exhausted. I still do not know how I made it through.
And yet, at the end of the school year, this was the class that was the hardest to let go. Students cried and parents spoke highly of my ability to bring out the best of a not-so-perfect situation.
I reflect back on that year often, especially when the going gets tough. I feel like I gained five years of teaching experience in that one year. I am no longer the same teacher, or person, after that experience, but in a positive way.
I gained confidence in knowing if I could survive a year like that, I could survive any year, EVER. It also helped me increase my toolbelt of classroom management strategies and helped me realize I need to be my own advocate. I need to be an advocate for my students as well.
Thankfully, I was completing my masters in education at the time and the group helped me problem-solve and listened when I needed it. I also had an amazing husband who listened and helped me reflect.
Looking back, I’d never take away that experience. It helped shape who I am as a teacher today. I am a better teacher for my current students because of it.
I’m writing this to be the voice for all educators. We all have experiences in our life, career related or not, that make you feel like you hit rock bottom, and that it will never end. Yet, these moments can be the most powerful moments to learn from.
I challenge you to think about the one thing that is currently driving you nuts, causing you the most stress. Instead of beating yourself up and seeing yourself as a failure, think about when it is all said and done, you will be a stronger person because of it, even if you currently do not have the answer.
Even more important than that, know you are NOT alone. We’ve all been there and will be there again!