I distinctly remember my first Sunday during the first weekend of the first school year in 15 years that I was not going to teach. I had "moved up" into an adminstrative position. That Sunday felt weird. There was something missing. It was that creeping sensation that all teachers experience on Sundays. The need to grade papers or plan a lesson for the next day.
That Sunday I felt free. And I continued to feel a sense of freedom and elation every single Sunday for the next few years as I remembered my Sunday as a classroom teacher and how stressful they always were. When people would ask if I missed teaching I would say yes. I missed the kids. But I didn't miss that creepy Sunday sensation. In fact, I figured it would take a long time for me to forget about that feeling. And when I did, I'd be ready to go back.
After five years as an administrator, I needed to be back with the kids. And that's where I am now. Back home. In the classroom.
Yesterday was Sunday. I had a stack of essays to grade. The students were asked to write a first draft of their college essay. I gave them five prompts, but not a lot of guidance. "Just write," I told them. "Tell me your stories". And boy, did they.
In my five years out of the classroom, I never felt as moved as I did yesterday afternoon reading the stories of my student's lives. They weren't gramatically effective, or particularly well-organized, but they were honest. I feel so blessed that they trust me with their stories.
That trust is what gets built in a classroom, every day, when a teacher and her students show up to do the hard work together. It's challenging and frustrating and downright maddening at times. But with that trust comes a kind of honest storytelling that only a teacher can hear.