There are so many facets to an identity: home, school, work, family, friends, the list could go on. I’ve had a myriad of roles within each during my lifetime. But for the last 13 years I have owned just one in my work life: Teacher. And it has been great. My kids have made my life richer. They have challenged my mind but never my heart. I’ve loved them all, even in their most tangled of selves.
Starting as Miss P in Room 23, I was terrified of being in front of these kids. Would they like me? Respect me? Learn from me? Have fun in my classroom? Remember me when they left? I’m not sure how much that class actually learned from me, brand new teacher, but I have a file that holds a faded orange card from my Carletta “Blueberries” telling me that I was the most fantabulous, wonderful, and exceptional teacher she’d ever had. All these years later, I believe the same about her. I’ve had student after student come through the door of Room 23 and Room 14 for the last 13 years. Some are more clear in my mind than others, but the impression that they all left as one of “my kids” forever sticks with me, and I hope with them.
During the last few years especially, my teaching has changed. It has become so much more about us than me. The students, their families, my colleagues, and me. That’s the us. Together we have made amazing changes and have grown so much that I am continuously thankful for all of them. They teach me every day about the value of inquiry, curiosity, listening, love, questioning, caring, camaraderie, laughter, and heart.
As I tweak my work identity and leave my classroom behind, a little bit of me fears losing a piece of what makes me me. I am a teacher with a classroom. It is who I am. I tell myself that I will still be a teacher and that the best parts of my identity will only be made stronger now: inquiry, curiosity, listening, love, questioning, caring, camaraderie, laughter, and heart. I’m ready. I think.