Hello friends, and to be honest, long time no see. I haven’t written a post since September, which honestly isn’t all that surprising. I am in the middle of my first year as a teacher, and although most days I would say I am doing well, it doesn’t leave me with a lot of extra mental, physical, or emotional energy. For some reason though, today I really felt the urge to write a blog post. So here I am, coming to share with you my 2018 in review – the good, the amazing, and the bad.
I don’t know if this is a post many will want to read, but it’s one I want to write. There will be pictures, gratitude, and a whole lot of honesty.
Student Teaching in Germany
I started 2018 in a new country, having arrived in Germany just a few days before the new year. My roommates and I traveled to Karlsruhe, a small German city a few hours from our base and celebrated the New Year with fireworks being blasted in all directions. We were slightly fearful for our lives as drunken people of all ages were setting off fireworks in front of the palace. We survived with only a few close calls, and only one bush set on fire.
This was perhaps a sign of how the rest of my student teaching would go. The travel was amazing (I mean, really freaking amazing), the friends and people I met almost better. Out of all the travel, one of my most treasured memories from the trip was a late night dance party with my roommates. There were, however, moments of fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and homesickness as I spent 4 months an ocean away from pretty much everyone I know.
Overall, I would not change my experience, as it made me a better teacher and better person. It certainly only fed my passion for travel and experiencing new countries and cultures. When I arrived back in Indiana in April, I was more secure in my classroom presence, ready to graduate college, and a lot more tan (Thanks Greece!).
That first month back was a frenzy. Seeing friends, attending ceremonies, applying for jobs, career fairs, dinners, and all those “lasts” in my college town. My amazing friend Ellie took some graduation photos for me, which I cannot thank her enough for.
I graduated on May 5th, about two weeks after I returned from Germany. My whole family, including my 3 sisters and their 5 young children, my grandparents, my parents and step-parents, and my boyfriend’s parents, came to watch this moment. Considering they all came from at least 4 hours away makes that very special to me. I honestly have very few memories of that day, it was such a whirlwind. I do remember feeling so loved and supported, proud of my friends who had graduated along side me, and dazed as to how four years had passed so very very quickly. I also remember that my sister got out of bed super early, left the hotel, and came over, with her two kids, to my place early to curl my hair for me, and that is the definition of a sister to me.
I am eternally grateful to everyone who came to see me graduate and who have supported me throughout my life. I’m the only one who walked across the stage, but I could not have been there without the support of many, many people. A special thanks to my mom and dad, who always encouraged me to read, it made all the difference.
The Job Search
Now on to a less positive note. After I graduated, I spent the next month and a half searching for a job. I had been halfheartedly looking already, but graduation signaled the real beginning of the search. I attended the teacher job fair at my university and had a couple interviews, and I was feeling positive. After a few weeks of hearing nothing from anywhere (and I had applied to about 20 schools), I began to have major anxiety.
I would go entire days without leaving my bed or speaking to anyone but my boyfriend, who I lived with. I had no job after returning from Germany, and my bank account was dwindling. Most of my friends were either busy working or had already left my college town. I also stopped reaching out to people and allowed myself to spiral. I began to think that I wasn’t worthy of a job. That I wasn’t good enough. I tore myself apart every day that I heard nothing.
I finally had a few interviews. One went really well but I was not offered the job – a close friend was. People who had graduated out of my program were rapidly finding jobs while I continued to spiral. Although I knew in my head that it was only June, it felt like all the jobs had been filled. I know my boyfriend was worried about me, and would even help me apply to jobs, but didn’t know what else to do.
Finding the Job
Finally, I reached out to one school that I had interviewed with at the teacher job fair to see if they were still looking for a social studies teacher. They said they were, and asked me to come in for an interview. I drove about 9 hours that day to and from the interview. I really liked the culture of the school and the administration that I interviewed with. I felt like it had gone really well, and while sitting in my car in the parking lot to leave they called me, asked me to come back in and complete a second interview. They asked me to observe a teacher and take notes on specific things and then we debriefed after. Upon completing this, they said that they were confident and offered me the job right then.
Even after getting the job, I still struggled the rest of the summer. After so many years of going non-stop, to have nothing to do until August was a weird feeling for me. Still, once I had the job, a lot of my self-hate went away. I started leaving the apartment more, reading more, and blogging more! I now knew where I was going and what I was doing. I had goals again.
I interviewed at one final place, but I was confident that the school that had offered me the position was the right fit for me. Although not where I thought I would end up (middle school), I absolutely think it is where I am meant to be right now.
Once we had figured out where the heck I would be teaching, it was time to move. My school is not in an area we wanted to live, so we knew some commute would be necessary. We made two visits to our new area to apartment hunt and visit my new school, and finally found an apartment in a city we would enjoy. We are in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, so the further our we went, the cheaper things were. We ended up moving to a place that we almost didn’t visit due to time restraints.
Again, we had incredible support from our family. My car at this point was very sketchy and couldn’t haul a trailer. To fix this, my dad and his fiancee drove all over the state to help us get our things to our new place. A few days later, my mom, step-dad, sister, and brother-in-law brought the rest of our things that had been in storage in Michigan while I was in Germany. A few days later, his mom and sister brought some things his sister had for us. They also took us on a mini shopping trip to home goods to add some really lovely things to our new home.
We felt so much love that week from our family who went out of their way to help make our new apartment a home.
Moving brought back a purpose to my life and removed the last vestiges of the sadness and anxiety that I dealt with during the summer.
Starting my New Job
Finally, when August arrived, I started my new job. It was a whirlwind from day one, and hasn’t slowed down all that much in the last 5 months. I think my first year of teaching is the hardest thing I have ever done. There are weeks when I come home on Friday and have nothing left to give.
I have been sick approximately 10 times. I have cried (only once at school) and laughed, and fallen in love with my profession. I have also realized why so many teachers have quit in recent years. I have seen the good and the ugly, and I choose to stay with it. I have had the support of three women who are all very different, but who can all make me laugh at the end of a terrible day, will answer any question I have, no matter how stupid, and who have made me a part of their team.
This Monday marks the end of semester one, which means I have officially made it through half of my first year. It seems simultaneously like it has been 3 years, and also no time at all. I am still learning so much every single day. I appreciate what I learned in my education classes in college, but no class prepared me for when middle school boys start playing a game of hitting each other “below the belt” or when a student repeatedly throws himself out of his chair onto the floor.
I know that I am not the best teacher I can be. I also know that I keep showing up, and I keep trying to make myself better, and my teaching better, because my kids deserve it. As long as I keep striving to be better, I try not to beat myself up over the mistakes I inevitably make.
This year has brought more change to my life than any other year to date. I believe I am a completely different person than the one who rang in the new year in Karlsruhe. I’m still working to be better, every day. Also, I am still eternally thankful for the friends (especially you, LJ) who stick by me, even though I am not a good communicator, and not even always a good friend. They keep me sane. I am thankful for my family, which I hope has been abundantly clear in this post. I am thankful for my boyfriend, whose positivity and love kept me going when I was in a very dark place, and who let me borrow his car to drive all over the state for interviews.
This year I was also able to do some pretty cool things. In addition to the travel, I was able to buy a car thanks to help from my parents, go see Hamilton while at a conference in Chicago, and decorate my very first classroom.
Although we are already 12 days into 2019, I haven’t thought all that much about making resolutions, or a word for the year. I was sick with the stomach flu on new years eve and new years day. Right after that got sick with strep throat and a double ear infection. I am finally starting to feel human again, and I do want to set a few intentions for 2019.
- Health. Not a joke, although after 13 days of being very sick, it seems like one. I want to have more energy in the new year, so I want to eat healthier lunches, drink more water, and sleep more.
- Hobbies. I realized that during my first two months of teaching, I did almost nothing other than teach and plan lessons. This year I want to make sure I set aside time for myself to do other things that I enjoy. For example, reading, blogging, and cooking.
- Money. There are few things that perpetually stress me out and make me unhappy. One of those things is money. This year I want to worry less about money, while also working to make better choices with my money.
So there you have it, my year in review. It had ups and downs, and major changes, and I have learned more than I thought possible. If you read this, maybe take a moment to thank those in your life who helped you this past year. I know I will be. Thanks, as always, for reading.