Fair warning: This is not my usual type of post, but I hope you get inside my heart for a little while and get inspired. I wrote the majority of this post 2.5 years ago. I think I’m ready to share it now that I’ve got my inner Meredith back.
This is the last day of summer vacation before my tenth year of teaching. I am going to a new school this year, and I am very excited to be there. But instead of loathing the end of summer vacay and my freedom as most teachers do on this day, I am loathing how I performed last year as a teacher. I was at a different new school last year, and I must confess that I did a horrible job. Something happened to my juju, my mojo. I allowed things I wouldn’t normally allow; I became fairly obsessed with only impressing everyone and not obsessed with being me and letting my students be themselves, and I stopped worrying about saving student lives. I succumbed to teacher stress and teacher burnout — not the kind that comes from doing too much, but the kind that comes from doing too little — I wasn’t involved, I wasn’t invested, and I wasn’t me. You see, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m the kind of weird, erratic, Type A person who just has to be an overachiever to be happy; it’s one of the things that make me happy because I’m not normal. I tried to be the “normal” mediocre teacher last year, the one who doesn’t stay up all night worrying about her students, the one who doesn’t obsess about every little thing, the one who listens to too much complaining, and the kind that other teachers would graciously accept, even though that’s not me. It’s not who I am in my inner being; it’s not how I am made.
Maybe I’ve been watching too much Grey’s Anatomy lately, but I believe the best surgeons in this world are teachers. We save lives every day. Surgeons may operate to help our physical bodies heal, but it is our teachers who mold our minds, who shape our levels of creativity, and who help influence who we become. I know I had incredible public school teachers who did that for me. Teachers take kids from poverty and show them that there are no limits. Teachers take those gifted students and students with disabilities who both fight the constant pang and pressures to be normal and teach them how to soar.
If you’re a teacher who happens to be reading this blog, I hope you will join me in reaffirming my commitment to teaching, to saving lives this year. I don’t want to present the same thing in the same way every year and call it teaching.
Act like Meredith Grey and save some lives this year,
PS: 2.5 years later, I want to impart one more piece of wisdom I learned from 2014-2015. Not every teacher fits at every school. I am so lucky now to work with a team of people who get me. They put up with my shortfalls and depend on my strengths. We work well together because we are a family, and our students are part of that family. I believe we save a lot of lives together. #wearewarrencounty
I dedicate this article to my Warren County colleagues who helped me learn to save lives again.