Switching grades and schools in teaching

A few months’ back, I did something crazy. I quit my job. When those declarations of intent came around via a Google survey or something like that, I did the bold move and said I would not be returning to teaching 2nd grade at my school. I had no other job lined up. I hadn’t even consulted with my husband. I just went ahead and did it.

Last spring, I found myself hemming and hawing about the matter. I just wasn’t liking my school. There were a lot of little things, many of them all about me, but even last year I felt the urge to move on.

This year, things were even worse. The hard reality is my school was a tough school. Certainly within the “inner-city” standards and when the school (a charter) had moved buildings some years back it attracted a very new population. Eventually 2 very distinct populations I don’t mean to decry any populations and, oh, how I loved these students and their families, but it did make things hard!

I asked for advice on my teacher message boards. Obviously I wasn’t anywhere close to the worst situation, but things were still difficult. So much of my school day was devoted to behavior management and redirection. A very worthy enterprise, of course, and something many teachers even seek out. But for me, after a few years, I was beyond burnt out. Add in craziness in school form and all those in-house thorns, and I was done.

Responding that I would not be returning was one of the most freeing things I’ve done in some time. A good friend even pointed out how stressed I had been this past school year and the weight that seemed to be gone when I officially wasn’t returning.

My husband, somewhat surprised and perhaps a little worried I just up and quit, was very supportive and never said a word against it. (Truth be told, I think he would like to find a way to afford to have me part-time or all the way at home).

I should have been terrified. After all, I had been carrying the insurance! I quit before we learned Jade has cystic fibrosis, so that was kind of a big deal. But, I never worried. I felt peace and even joy in my decision. Things would work out.

They actually did. I recently accepted a contract teaching 1st grade (the grade upon which I cut my teaching teeth) at a very different sort of school. Think middle-class small-town with even a dash of rural in the area. I’m a little worried about the different challenges this might present. I suppose we shall see.

But I am excited. A new school, a slightly different grade… this might need the break I need.

It’s important to switch it up when you need it. Heck, maybe even when you don’t need it.

I feel rejuvenated and I haven’t even set foot in my new classroom.

It’s a good feeling.


Becoming a CF Mom

This summer evening winds down May, and the morning will bring June and what I consider to be the true beginning of summer. I can’t wait. Summer has long been considered my favorite season, a time of heat and sun and the fullness of nature. Summer is the celebration of life.

This transition to June also signifies the end of a very crazy month. On the last day of April, a GI doctor suggested my daughter Jade might have cystic fibrosis. A few more rectal prolapses, some tests, and it all proved true. The past months of paleness, nearly insatiable appetite, and continuing petite “teeny bean” status culminated in this moment of sense. My daughter, who was so healthy for so much of her life, has cystic fibrosis.

I cried when I found out. I was helping prepare a shrimp boil for friends and Layne called me from the road. The sweat test Jade had been to revealed CF. I cried, called my mom, cried some more, and somehow got it together for the shrimp boil. The dinner was nice, something I needed that night.

I like to think I have been strong this month. I honestly don’t know how else to be. I have had a night, years ago, where I think I may have had something that could qualify as a panic attack. No one likes being depressed, upset, but I think I truly hate it. I want to avoid that. Perhaps not in an a sunshiney way, but if I can find a way to navigate hurdles rather than sinking into despair, that’s something I want.

So far, it has helped.

The oddity is May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month. Since the diagnosis, I have found CF families spilling right out of the woodwork. I have joined two Facebook groups and received all sorts of phone numbers of people who get there. I have been assured by all that these days things will probably go okay. I am trusting on this. I have hope things will go well, and I hope I have the faith for it all.

I have a strange quirk of researching ADHD and other such things. It’s part of being a teacher, I suppose. This inevitably leads to the mothers of special needs kids, wonderful, strong women who are friggin’ awesome anyway. I admired them.

Am I one of them now? Jade is considered surprisingly healthy in spite of this. We will be doing preventive care for her lungs, but as of the moment there are no lung problems. She has to take enzymes and will be on the Vest, but where does that leave me in the tribes of mothers out there?

I have in the recent past considered and even put into practice limiting my social media, but I suddenly have renewed gratitude for communities. I am grateful for this marvelous internet technology that widens my support network. I don’t know where I lie now as a “CF Mom” but at least I can ask stupid questions on the internet. It feels good.

I think I’m doing okay. Now that summer is upon me I can squeeze in a few temple trips and maybe even meet with the psychologist I can apparently talk to down at Primary Children’s.

Welcome, June. Help me settle down from this crazy month of May.