In Which our Protagonist Becomes Emotional Pudding
Today was officially my last day of school for the semester. All the work is done and handed in; all of the projects and presentations are complete; all of the books for my thematic unit have been returned to the library; all the work I'll be getting back is back... and I couldn't possibly be more relieved. I am going to positively relish the boredom whenever it appears over the next few months. I am going to bask in having nothing whatsoever to do. I am going to become orgasmic at the thought of coming home from work and not having to spend my evening poring over this computer screen for anything but porn. Ha.
And it was a nice last day, too. Everybody brought in something to eat, and we had a breakfast, and everybody shared their thoughts about the semester, and it was generally just a relaxed, gentle way to ease us back into having lives again.
And the nicest part of it all was getting my work returned. Mark, the professor for the science portion of my Math/Science/Technology course, and I have gotten to know each other pretty well over these past couple of months. His daughter, who's in her twenties, has severe autism, and she went to school where I work in its earliest years. Mark's wife works there, and I've spoken to her once or twice. He and I formed a nice little bond over this common thread in our lives, and we email back and forth, and we talk quite a bit outside of the usual academic conversation. He's one of the warmest, funniest people I've ever met, and I positively adore him.
Anyway. He handed two of the assignments that he graded for me. One of them said, "I love this lesson. Can I keep it and use it as an example of an Inquiry-Based CLE for my next class? I'll take your name off if you want, but I would be proud of this. You write so well and have so much creativity that I'm jealous." On the bottom of the paper, he wrote "C. [one of the teachers where I work, who Mark knows very well] wants me to tell you to be a special ed. teacher. Invite me to your class when you decide what you're gonna do. I know I'll be impressed." In the other assignment, my science journal, that he handed back, he'd tucked an index card into it and wrote, "C.H. [same teacher] says you're a natural with the kids."
Nothing this semester was as good for my heart and for my soul as what he wrote to me. Over the past couple of days, I've been seriously questioning whether I'm doing the right thing. You give a lot of yourself and a lot of your time when you embark on this journey, and there is absolutely nothing easy about it. It can be stressful, lonely, difficult, and heart-breaking sometimes. I was concerned that I really don't have the inner resources that I need to be successful at teaching, and I even contemplated dropping out at this late stage in the game and taking some office job where people would leave me the hell alone and never ask me, for the seventeenth time, if they can sharpen their fucking pencil.
But reading what Mark had to say, and his passing on what C. had said about me (and C. is one of my goddamn role models at work; she is one of the best special educators I've had the pleasure of working with) - it gave me back some of my conviction and confidence. I love what I do. If I could make enough money to support myself at it, and just stay as an aide, I would. I'm at my best there. My best qualities - my patience, my sense of humour, my kindness - come out when I'm with my kids. To know that someone else sees this and has faith in my abilities is so heartening and amazing to me. I want to do it. And, in order to make enough money to keep doing it, I have to have a degree, and I have to have certification. And if I have to jump through a thousand hoops to do it, then I will.