I started my unexpected teaching career with nothing: I didn’t know Latin, I’d never taught, never even been in a private school, wasn’t affiliated with the church…In my interview, I literally told the principal “I don’t know why you’d hire me, but I love Jesus, kids, and languages, so I think this could all work out.”
And it did. I rebuilt the Latin and Spanish curriculums, created a drama program, got my credential, coached the volleyball team, and planted deep roots into the community at my school.
When I talked to my students about leaving, they asked a lot of questions. They wanted to know who would teach Spanish, Drama, coach volleyball. Who would throw pens at them. Who would demand they say “please?” at the end of every sentence. Who would teach them silly songs about frogs who love Jesus. Who would put together weird vocabulary slideshows. Who would youtube videos of puppies when we’d had a particularly rough day.
They said a lot of nice words…I got many hugs and nice cards that I will keep forever. Some even made me a video impersonating me! They demanded my boyfriend’s email address so they could write strongly worded letters. Some cried in my arms or made cookies.
It was overwhelming to feel so loved and to know I will be missed. Lots of times, as a teacher, I feel like I only heard concerns from parents, or heard students’ sighs about homework, or felt the time-suck of staff meetings, endless emails, correcting papers, cleaning, discipline, and all the mundane things no one tells you will really make up the bulk of your life.
Sometimes I just felt like a girl pretending to be an adult, trying to make kids care about a subject they just don’t care about. I know my students love me, but very few out of the 130 I teach actually love the Latin language. It was emotionally exhausting to drag the rest of them, kicking and screaming, through the worlds of vocabulary, declensions, verb tenses, and sentence drills.
And so I things like tell endless pirate jokes, or play pranks on them, or knock their pens off their desks, or steal their notebooks and write notes inside, or show youtubes of baby ducks. And so we made a fun, little family in my classroom-built-to-be-a-closet. And now I am struck by the idea that I have known these faces for three years, but perhaps will never see them ever again. (To be honest, with some students/parents, this is a rather comforting thought! :) ) But I will never know how they grow up, how they look without braces, if they will remember me, if they made good choices in high school. If they ever realized how special and beautiful and loved they were.
I have learned a lot these last four years. There are many things I wish I had done differently/would have known before I started, and many moments I wish I could do-over. But I don’t have a whole lot of regrets. Afterall, YOLO. (You Only Latin Once!)
What I do have are memories and tears. After I cleaned out my room, and handed in my keys, had my exit interview and got in the car, I just wept. I wept to think that someone else would be sitting in my desk come August, and teaching all the curriculum I worked so hard to develop. And I cried to think of all my kids and how I would miss them. I cried to think of leaving all my friends I have made…friends so close that I ran out of the building, afraid to say goodbye, because I knew it would hurt my heart.
But I think it is so hard because I have loved it. And that is a good, sweet thing. I question my decision to leave every hour or so, and the true test will come in August, when my co-workers head back and I…figure out what God has planned for me. No matter what, I will always be so grateful for the chance my school took on me, and for the many students who came into my classroom each year, changing my life forever.
Some Highlights of the Last Four Years!
- Teacher Diaries: The Little Things (racheldangerw.wordpress.com)
- A Time Capsule of the Year (racheldangerw.wordpress.com)
- TeacherDiaries: Racism. (racheldangerw.wordpress.com)
- Does Latin have a future? (timesonline.typepad.com)
- The last 10 minutes of a language lesson make all the difference (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- Being a Latin pedant (cartesianproduct.wordpress.com)
- What You Can Learn From My Beginning Years of Terrible Teaching (schoolofsmock.com)