Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Important Things

For the longest time I thought teaching was the most important thing to me. Being an elementary school teacher was more than my career, it was my identity.
I loved my job and I loved my students. I wanted them to succeed and develop a pride of hard work. It was important to me that they feel connected to our classroom and that I was on their side. I wanted them to LOVE learning and develop a reverence for the power of words. I wanted them to understand that we all learn differently and what is best for you may not be what's best for me and that is OK. I wanted them to learn the value of mistakes and the only failure is not learning from a mistake. It was important to me that they learn how to function responsibly in a shared community; that our actions impact others and every choice has a consequence. I wanted them to learn how to respect themselves and others' bodies, property, feelings, work, ideas.

I worked hard at my job to impart these life lessons along with the constant changes of curriculum. I accepted these changes with more optimism than not; taking the new, mixing it with the old, and attempting to deliver it in a variety of ways that would best impact diverse learners.
I was good at teaching. In the 9 years I spent in a classroom I did important work. I know I made an impact on children's lives.
It's been almost 2 years since I left the classroom. Making the decision to leave was the hardest decisions I've ever faced, Doing my job to the high standard I held myself to was no longer possible due to vision-loss that occurred at the birth of daughter in 2010. I could no longer be the teacher who I wanted to be or needed to be, and I came to the realization that "teacher" was not my full identity. It was just one aspect of me - an aspect that had changed dramatically with the additions of "mother" and "disabled" to my life.
Most of the time we have the opportunity to make choices about what is important in our lives. These choices dictate how are lives turn out, but life isn't lived within a bubble. Quite often decisions we've made, plans we've counted on are changed suddenly, without warning and without consent and we have no choice other than to begin to live our lives differently.
I am not the same type of teacher I was 5 years ago. In fact, I am no longer employed as one at all. However, I still teach every day yet I still teach. I teach others as I learn how to embrace transition and transformation, while adapting to new identities. I teach those around me how to live a life that matters, by redefining purpose and finding joy in the unknown. It's not the same, but it is important.

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