Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Livin' The Dream

Today was my last day at work for this school year. Friday morning at 7:00 I am having a sacrocolpolplexy(sp?)  a big word for "let's yank it all up and tie it  back together" from childbirth  injuries, endometriosis, a hysterectomy and gravity.  The surgery is being done with a robot assist(!) at a hospital in Minneapolis. Bless my children in advance for their caregiving.

No one I have ever met in my life has aspired from an early age to teach eighth grade. In fact, we joke that other people's reactions are either, " What?? Eighth grade? Is that the only job you could get?" Or, " Oh....eighth grade....wow. I'm sorry."  Which is why, among my colleagues, we often answer each other when greeted with, " Hey!  How are ya?" by replying,
 " Livin' the dream."

But sometimes it's really true for me. As others, I thought my career in education would land me in an elementary classroom, and I did teach sixth grade for a time, after a brief sojourn in eighth grade. Every grade level has it's positive sides, but when I returned to eighth grade seven years ago, I knew it was where I belonged.  At Forestview Middle School, there is a strong camaraderie among the staff in eighth grade, and truly, many of them have become my surrogate family, especially this last year. At lunch last week, Misty blurted out, " You people make it too hard to look for another job somewhere." You do too MJ. Which is why I cried like a baby saying goodbye while hugging my teammate Shane, who is leaving Team 8C next year for a  new career path. He brightened up my every day. Plus he always shared his gum and his Strib with me. :) And Lisa? We couldn't even go there as you were leaving, today, could we? Tearing up, just thinking about it. And Todd S....your final act of friendship was letting me "steal" your cookie one more time at lunch.
Godspeed you three. You will be missed by me.

So today was bittersweet. My summer break begins early, but so did the goodbyes.

It's no surprise to you if you know me, that what I love about eighth grade is that at that age, it's all about the relationship. Yes, I love teaching the literature, and the history behind it and all the other pieces of eighth grade English. And yes, I hate that my job is turning into one big mandated testing curriculum.  But for me it's about the kids. And knowing them, and being teacher/mentor/parent at times/but mostly, a trusted adult that they can turn to when needed. Some years the connections aren't so strong. Some kids at this age are just pukes, as we say. And it seems to be a group mentality for the most part. This year  however, our kids are wonderful. And there were some strong connections made. And some of them grew up so much and I am so proud of who they are becoming. One boy, the kid who drives you nuts, but you also love? He suggested that I just Skype from home during 3rd hour so that I could still be the teacher. A few notes shyly taped to my desk while I was out saying,
" When I'm at school you're like my mom....I don't want you to leave." Another one said, " I wouldn't have survived eighth grade without you. You were always there for me when I was down."

And so, I move on, some of my dear friends and colleagues move on, and certainly our 8C kids move on.  Robert Frost said it well when he said, " I can sum up life in three words. It goes on."

Livin' the dream.

On the journey.