When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait for summer to end. I was one of those kids who loved going back-to-school shopping. Once we got home from Meijer, I would immediately pack my backpack in an incredibly orderly fashion—even if school wasn’t going to start for another two weeks. I always went to the store with my mom because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity of seeing my school friends.
With every passing year, a new development would arise to make me want to go back to school even more. First grade: What new friends will I make this year? Fifth grade: What fun projects will I do this year? Tenth grade: What boys got cute over the summer?
This year is a different story. Now I’m the teacher. While I got through my first year of teaching, every time I get asked the question, “How did your first year go?” I answer, “Really hard. Really really hard.”
I’ve been told that the second year of teaching is equally as hard as the first, and that it isn’t until your third or fourth year that things start to calm down and you gain more confidence. Two more years? I can’t wait that long! If I know I’m going to end up feeling fulfilled by my career and my students eventually, then why can’t I skip over that “getting there” part and just get to the good stuff? I’ve always been a perfectionist, so this whole “being a newbie” thing is really testing me.
This summer feels very different from last summer. Last summer I was a nervous wreck. I had no idea if I was going to get a job. I had resigned myself to the idea that I would have to be a substitute for a year when I very hastily got a job a week before the school year started. It was mayhem.
This summer is different. I’m pretty sure I have a job this year (seriously, there are no guarantees), so I feel more secure. With that security, however, comes the fact that I now know what the month of September is like, with all the shuffling around of schedules and students fighting against back-to-school mode. I know how unbearable a class can be when everyone is talking over me and people are refusing to sit in their assigned seats. I know how exhausted I can get with a classroom of 43 freshmen.
Some people might be expecting me to end this post with an uplifting, hopeful note: “Even though teaching is challenging, I’m convinced that this is my calling and that I am fulfilling the vocation that God has led me to.” Well, I’m not going to say that. Because, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not sure that this is what I want to do. During the school year, yes, there were times that I was excited with a discussion or activity, but most of the time, I was just worn out.
Early this summer, I met with my advisor, Bill VandeKopple, and told him all of this. He told me that I shouldn’t judge the profession until I’ve done it for five years, that I need to give it a chance. I suppose I just need to take it on faith that he’s right.
A born-and-and-raised Grand Rapidian, Sarah (’12) is now a seventh grade language arts teacher in the Seattle area. She has been living there since the summer of 2015 with her music teacher husband, Mike. She loves reading, watching Netflix, playing games, watercolor, and walking at the off-leash dog park (even though she does not have a dog).