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.
There are big prayers headed your way for not only you to have a wonderful year, but for the rest of your school. for the firefighters, for your air quality, and for all teachers’ sanity! You are not alone.
Kristy, thank you, thank you, thank you! 🙂
Lisa Ellis says
I am beginning my 41st year teaching emotionally impaired children. Two years ago, I began the year feeling much like you are now – large, difficult class, little support etc…basically many things out of my control (and I like to be in control!) On the spur of the moment, I messaged someone whom I barely knew, but did know she was someone who prayed. I asked her to pray for my students, my staff and for me – she immediately said she would, and she did so all year long. (I had never done anything like this before!) From that moment, I felt lifted by her prayers, I felt supported in the task at hand. I felt less anxious and ready to face tasks that I was so worried about. I cannot tell you how much it helped to get a message before school telling me that my class was being prayed for. You have shared your heart here today – I totally get it, and will include you in my prayers. And since I am also married to a firefighter/paramedic, I also pray for them. I know our jobs are hard- i hope you know that your load is shared by others who understand.
Lisa, this is an amazing story. I love that this person’s prayer lifted you up and you were supported. Thank you for including me in your prayers. I am so appreciative. Please thank your spouse for me!
Kelly Hall says
Prayers for you, your students, the firefighters, and all the families affected by this tragedy!
Thank you for your prayers! And I love this song! Thank you for the link!!!
Thinking of you and your students. Let those sweet smiles cheer your heart and their laughter lift you up!!! You got this!!!
Praying for you all. I think we all feel like this at times no matter how many years we have under our belt. We would never get past 24, I can’t believe you often have 29 way too many.
Take care and have a wonderful “Back to School Week”
Annie, thank you so much!! I truly appreciate it!
Cheryl Reinhardt says
Thank you for sharing your heart and witness. Many of us feel the same anxiety and put on such a brave face to others. After 32 years of teaching I have found that it is so important to be honest and ask for support, especially from those who share our faith and our calling to be a teacher. Anxiety is powerful, however our God is even more powerful and is in control! I’m praying for you and those who live in your community. Please keep us posted and let us know if you need anything.
Cheryl, thank you! Thank you for these words! Yes, I definitely need to be more honest about how I’m feeling with others and lean on others for support. Our God is so powerful!! Thank you for your prayers – we appreciate them!!!
Thank you so much for writing this, i am about to start my third year at my third district, 4th school. I have had two very abnormal years. I have not slept this last week due to anxiety, nothing like yours, no fires! But it was encouraging to see that I am not alone in worrying about the coming year. I am praying that we will both have a year where we make a difference!
Dawn, wow! I can’t imagine what you must be going through. I’m a big ole baby for feeling the way I feel because I’m in the same grade level at the same school for 18 years now. You are definitely not alone. I have added you to my prayer list! BIG HUGS!
Carol Birch says
I am praying for you and all in your area. What a testimony you are to all the staff and students at your school. God is using you to do great things!
Thank you so much for your prayers, Carol! They are truly felt and so appreciated. I am grateful to you!
Kristin! Isn’t it bizarre how we ask God for things and then are surprised when He answers? You are a woman who seeks God. Thank you for your witness and dedication. After 35 years I still have those days of doubt and depression.
God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Bobette, you’re the best. The absolute best. And yes, why am I surprised when He answers my prayers? He is so faithful and good all the time. All the time, God is good. Thank you!!!!
Rita Ontiveros says
Thank you Kristin! Your message is what I needed to hear! This has been a crazy week and as of yesterday afternoon, I really didn’t know what I was going to be teaching. I knew I had to put my trust in Him and He did not fail me! Prayers for you, your new group of wonderful students and your community!! Blessings for a great school year!!
Rita, I hope you know what you are teaching now and that it is the perfect placement for you. Thank you so much for your prayers!! I truly appreciate it!
It’s so weird. I read your post and I was nodding my head the whole time. We have had such bad smoke our kids didn’t get to go out the first day. I have a very “sparkly” kid this year…don’t want to go down that path…I have had 28-29 kids every year in Kindergarten and First grade for the last 5-6 years. However, our new principal made a change, brought a teacher down from another grade level, and now I have 24! I can’t even tell you how much that helps EVERYTHING. God is good. Recognizing what our students’ need is also good. I am grateful to God and to my new principal for getting it. I hope you have a fantastic year.
Natasha, I’m so happy for you that have a smaller class size! It sure sounds like we can definitely relate to one another. Love the “sparkly” word! I’ll have to use that! 🙂
You hit the nail on the head, so many of us feel like that. Thank you for your honesty and yes, God is unbelievably amazing, all the time.
I will be praying for you Monday..um, maybe I better just say at church tomorrow, I could forget by Mondday…dang, I could forget by church time….ok, praying now, I can remember that!
Dee, thank you for praying for me AND for making me laugh!! THANK YOU!
Gayla King says
Dear Lord, please be with this incredible teacher right now. Help her to feel your love and presence in these difficult times. Give her what she needs right now, and help her be assured that you will provide what she needs in the future. Help her to have an incredible year because you are in the center of it. In your name, we ask this. Amen.
Gayla, thank you so so so much for your prayer. It is felt and appreciated. THANK YOU.
This is so what I needed today. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reminding me of His grace. Thank you for the scripture. I will pray for you, for your students, for their families, for the firefighters and EMTs.
Thank you, Candace!! I truly appreciate it!! 🙂
Thank you so much for your honesty! Last year our first week of school recesses were spent inside due to smoke (I’m in Oregon). It was rough, I feel your pain. I was also supposed to get a student with an aide and I’ve been worried about him all summer, but I heard they found another placement for him. I always try to remember the saying that God only gives us what we can handle, so when things like this happen, I try to think that God must think I’m pretty badass. 😉
Kathleen, thank you for your comment!! I’m so sorry you spent the first week inside last year. I can’t imagine!! Everything happens the way it’s supposed to. Love your last sentence!! CRACKED ME UP!
Judy Jones says
I have been out of teaching for a few years now (other than occasional subbing) and yours is the ONLY teaching blog I follow. You are funny. You are sarcastic. And you’re real. Like me, it’s not easy being ‘real’. You always feel you have to be the strong one. You’re the one who needs to put on the happy face. But that’s not always real. Pain is real. Frustration is ral. Anxiety is real. You are in my prayers, dear one. You will finish this year with a song in your heart (and maybe more than a few empty wine bottles!) and look back at this time with a different view. Prayers for you and your class. I know you will have another great year and 25 more children will have wonderful memories of this year! God bless you 🙂
Judy! How sweet you are!! I feel honored that you still read my blog even though you are no longer in the classroom. Thank you for all of your kind words. They mean the world to me. THANK YOU!!!
Thanks so much for for your honest and heart-felt words. This is not the first time your blog has brought tears to my eyes. You are strong and capable and wonderful. Your post has made me feel so very grateful for the restful summer I have had and the uncomplicated back to school start up I’ll have in a few weeks. Sending many positive vibes your way. xo
Miss Coffey, thank you for always being such a loyal reader who always reaches out. Whenever I see your name, I smile!!! You make me happy!! THANK YOU!
Your words were just what I needed right now and have blessed me more than you can imagine. I also have health issues that have to do with my heart and at my checkup my Dr. didn’t like how my heart murmur was sounding and wants to check on it which means an echo cardiogram and ultrasound on my carotid artery this Wednesday the day before teachers in my district report back to work. I have suddenly been hit with anxiety thinking of all I need to do to get ready for my 2nd graders and now worrying about these test. Your words were the reminder I needed that God has me in the palm of his hand. Thank you and I will keep you in my prayers.
Beth! Oh wow. I have had all the above for my heart condition, including an angiogram. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org any time if you have questions or just need to talk. I will be praying that all is well and that your heart murmur has not led to anything. Sending you a big hug!
Oh, lady. I feel you. I’m a 20 year veteran. There’s a term called compassion fatigue. It is very real. I realized that I needed a break from my usual title one classrooms and first grade. It’s not forever, but oh my word! I needed to take care of me. I was a crabby crabapple. Not joking around with my coworkers, took myself off every single committee, didn’t go to a single after school get together and limited extra school things. I moved schools this summer and switched up to third. The anxiety, sleepless nights, the classroom behavior induced nightmares… It became too much. I am taking a break. I’ll get back to title one in a few years. I feel so guilty for putting myself first.
Oh, Beth, my heart hurts for you. I didn’t know there was a name for it, but I, too, taught in a title one school for four years. I completely understand where you are coming from. Please do not feel guilty. How can you be of any help to anyone if you don’t have strength left? You have to take care of yourself first. I am adding you to my prayer list. Sending you lots of hugs!
Thank you so much for being real and raw. I know the struggles and joys of being a missionary in the 2nd grade classroom. Thank you for sharing God’s Word and believing in the power of it. I will be praying for you and your team as well.
Hi Cari! Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers.
What I love most about you is your spirit. It comes through loud and clear with each post you write. Most weeks you lift MY spirit just by hearing from you. This week your spirit comes through – broken, humbled and seeking prayer. Father I ask that you look down on and send your guidance and peace to a friend I have never met but have grown to know and care about. Lift her spirit and remind her that she’s your child and has such an abundance of gifts to share with one and all. Cradle her in your arms for a while She’s needing some strength right now. I ask this in your name. Amen.
Becky, you are so sweet and with all the gratitude in the world, thank you for your prayer from the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU.
Camille Johnson says
Kristin, I am sending so much love your way! Thank you for being real with us all! Today at church the message was all about trusting God. Two types of trust: “I will trust you if only _____.” and then you put in a condition. OR “I will trust you in spite of __________.” Completely unconditional trust. Even though you feel fragile, you are showing us all how to unconditionally trust God; how to trust God in spite of your fears, in spite of the raging fire near you, in spite of class size, in spite of already knowing about a difficult student. Again, love and prayers are coming from me to you! Hang in there; our God is completely worthy of trust and he is almighty! Love you, Camille (up in San Jose)
Thank you, Camille!!!! 🙂 It is so good to hear from you, too!
I was in a similar situation last year and changed positions within my current school. Rather than being supportive my coworkers felt betrayed and continue to not speak to me.
I know some people would say “We’ve got this!” That is false hope. Our real hope is found in God alone. Thank you for reminding me that we do not have to be perfect because HE is perfect! We do not always have to be brave because HE is brave! We do not need to try and save ourselves because we have already been saved and redeemed through HIM!!
This is so so so true!! Thank you, Sara! I will pray for you that this year is much smoother!
Thank you for this post and for being so real about the anxiety of going back to school! I was so happy to read your update and to see how God answered so many prayers and removed so many sources of anxiety. I go back on Wednesday with students (26 to start) at 7.5 months pregnant. I am having anxiety about whether or not I’ll make it to my maternity leave, upseting parents due to my leave, disappointing people because of needed to take care of me, plus the knowledge all summer that I am to have a student with behavioral issues and a one on one side. I try to tell myself to “let go and let God handle it” but I quickly take back all the burdens I have asked Him to lift! I pray for you and hope you can relax a little longer this next week. I also pray for the continued containment of the fire in your area and the air quality. I live near the Carr Fire so I understand what you’re going through.
Julie, thank you for your prayers! I will pray for you, too!!!