Let’s get super real, shall we?
I start school on Monday.
I can’t tell you the last time we started school on a Monday. For the last several years, we have started school on a Wednesday, which is super helpful because we just dip our feet in, so to speak, and it’s manageable, and everyone feels all good about everything come Saturday.
This past week, teachers reported back officially on Wednesday.
I went to school on Tuesday to work and ran straight into my principal. As in, we are allowed to pull up onto campus, and park near our rooms when school is not in session, and as I pulled up to my room, my principal walked right up and WAITED FOR ME. (Let’s also take a moment and say thanks to the good Lord above that I did not actually RUN RIGHT INTO HER) The whole time, I was thinking well, I waved. Wave back and carry on. Why isn’t she moving on? Oh no, this isn’t good.
It wasn’t good.
Without going into too many details (legality issues and all that), I am getting a student who needs a one-on-one aide, but he wasn’t approved for one. So my principal wanted to move another first grader with a one-on-one aide to my room so that the aide could support BOTH students. Meanwhile, I also had a little guy on my list coming from another school with all sorts of circumstances, and I just felt completely and totally inept and unqualified and absolutely TERRIFIED.
But what did I do? I smiled at my principal and said whatever she wanted to hear which was stuff like of course, and you can count on me, and whatever you need . . .
And then I went into my room and felt like crying.
I didn’t, but I felt like it.
I prayed A LOT while I was working. And then a dear friend brought me lunch which was such a nice reprieve.
Meanwhile, once again, our second grade team got ANOTHER teacher because of the high numbers that we had in first grade last year (this is the third year that this has happened where the district “solves” the issue of high numbers in first grade by adding a second grade teacher the following year). Which means that while we had 28 and 29 first graders all year, our second grade teachers will now only have 21 and 22 students all year.
And I shouldn’t even be writing this or talking about it again because it is out of my control and has nothing to do with me whatsoever at all. But here I am, writing it anyway.
I thought I had let it go over the summer, but now the helplessness, frustration, anger, bitterness and all of the other feelings I have about this “numbers thing” have resurfaced and I am driving myself crazy with it. I do not think I suffer from OCD, but at times like this, I cannot turn my brain off and thoughts will replay over and over and over again in my brain, and I’m here to tell you, it is EXHAUSTING.
This is a pic I took from my backyard. It is smoke from the Holy Jim Fire.
This is my school. During the day. It is all smoke.
I went to bed on Tuesday night with so much anxiety, I can’t even tell you. I hardly slept. I prayed all throughout the night. I prayed You are God, and I am not, please help me release this, please help me change my thinking, you are in control, you know what’s best, you know what and WHO I can handle, please help me be the teacher these kids need . . . please keep the firefighters safe, please watch over the families who have had to evacuate, please protect their homes, protect the animals . . . and then BAM! Negative thoughts would creep back in and the cycle would start all over again. Again and again.
I’m here to tell you I can barely remember what happened on Wednesday. I was sleep deprived, I was dizzy and light headed because my heart was pounding from the stress I was feeling (also: heart condition), and on and on it goes.
I spent the morning in meetings, looking at data, feeling like a terrible teacher, and wanting to cry. I left at lunch to pick up food for my team, and then we set up sandwiches, a cake, and a card for a teammate’s birthday. That’s really all I remember. I just struggled back and forth in my mind with all of the pressure, expectations, anxiety, and then tried to combat it all with prayer.
That night, a co-worker and super good friend called to tell me she had been crying on and off all day, and I said I have felt like crying for two days, too, what is happening, how can I help?
And do you know what she said?
She was shocked. She said YOU felt like crying? KRISTIN? YOU? What’s wrong?
And that’s when I pretty much realized I tend to put on a brave face and go about my business, and smile, and try to make other people laugh, and everyone thinks I’m just fine and happy-go-lucky all the time. Which is good, I guess, because I do want people to know that I am, for the most part and for the majority of the time, happy and fine and wanting to be light-hearted, and funny.
But I am human.
And this has been a hard, hard week.
On Thursday, God lifted a lot of my burdens because He is so good, and so faithful, and I said to my friend, Laurie, and to Kerry, I do not deserve His grace, He is just shining His light and goodness down on me while I’ve gone around complaining at every single turn, and trying to be so in control of everything, and I have been Negative Nancy, and I have not been my best self in any way, shape, or form.
But He IS faithful and good. And even though I do NOT deserve His grace, He has bestowed it on me and that’s why it’s called grace.
First, the student I am getting who was not approved to have an aide IS NOW GETTING AN AIDE.
Second, that means I will NOT be getting the other student from the other class.
Third, the student from the other school was misplaced on my list, and is now on the list of the Special Day teacher who is 100% qualified to teach him because she is INCREDIBLE and SPECIAL and I bow down to her.
Fourth, my class list is at 25.
I *only* have 25 students on my list.
I don’t even know how to handle that. It is AMAZING. How in the world? What in the world? WHAT? My teammates also only have 25. We don’t even know what is going on, but we are just walking around really carefully and holding our breath and hoping no one notices.
And while I’ve been praying for the firefighters and first responders, for the families who have had to evacuate, for the protection of the homes and animals, I’ve also been praying about air quality.
Because it’s bad. It’s awful. Ash is everywhere. It smells bad. It’s hard to breathe. People are complaining of nausea and headaches (I’ve felt a little bit of both). Our superintendent declared inclement weather UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Insert wide-eyed emoji here.
This means that our brand new first graders, who are only used to half day kindergarten, will be with me for not only a FULL school day, but they will be INSIDE all the LIVELONG DAY, as well.
This means that I’ll barely see my teammates. Or any other co-workers. We are an outside school. There are no hallways where we’ll pass each other while indoors. It doesn’t work like that. Inclement weather at my school is just plain lonely. There is no other way to put it.
Two of our schools are officially closed due to evacuations and have a delayed start time of August 20. Parents are in an uproar and have started a petition for the rest of the district to start on August 20, as well. I have no idea what is going to happen next except that I’m planning on beginning school on August 13.
It’s the most anxious I have ever felt about any school year ever, including my first year teaching when I didn’t know any better and should have probably been a little more anxious than I was.
I do not know what to expect.
But I am definitely putting my trust and faith in my Father who has proven over and over and over again how much He loves me and cares for me, and works all things together for my good.
This whole rambling blog post is just to say that I am so not perfect, I do not have everything together, I am anxious, I have doubts, and I am a 21 year veteran teacher who feels inept and unqualified to do her job on most days. People would say I’m being hard on myself, but I’m here to say this is how I feel.
You are not alone. At all. I feel it, too.
We are in this together.
2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
And here it is in the Message version:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 The Message (MSG)
16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
I’m not giving up.
Please pray for our firefighters and first responders, evacuated families, protection over homes and animals, and our students and teachers as we face a long first week of school.