It has been quite a year! Diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Had surgery in July. Started chemo in August. Radiation for 7 weeks in January/February. And 15 boys in my class this year! Whew. There were certainly days I did not think I was going to make it and I don't feel like I did my best this year. My students met me for Meet-the-Teacher wearing a headscarf because that week I had started to lose my hair. When I stopped wearing them in March because my hair had started to grow back-they didn't recognize me anymore. My students didn't know, they are so little I didn't want them to worry-to them I was just a regular Kindergarten teacher.
It may be the teacher in me, but I view everything as a learning experience. I think we are thrown obstacles in life for a reason. Here's what I learned this year:
1) We judge each other as colleagues WAY too much. For years I have heard people make comments like-she leaves every day right at 3:30. My own team would make those comments to me-and they knew I was leaving to crawl into bed because I felt like I had been run over by a Mack Truck. I have a really good work ethic, it hurt me so much to hear those things. Why judge people like that? It's like I tell the kids, worry about yourself. It didn't affect them. So in the future, when I hear those conversations-I will not participate in them.
2) Empathy-most people do not have it. :) I have included this in my mental lesson plans for years to teach my Kinder students. Now I teach it much more consciously. My students know what empathy means and most of them are leaving me with more than they had when they started. In my own life-I am much more cognizant of how I respond to people who are complaining to me about something. In our world today-either on the internet or in real life-our knee-jerk reaction is to relate to what someone is saying. So if someone would ask how I was doing and I would say, "I'm just tired." And they would respond-"oh me too-I was up until 10 last night grading papers". Whenever I would talk to my sister she would say-oh yeah, I had that when I was pregnant. I'm sorry, but that's just not the same thing. It would have been more helpful to me if people would have just said-"I know, that must be hard." That's what I will do in the future.
3) Support comes from places you just do not expect it. I didn't really expect support from anyone at my school. We have just never been a school like that. We just pretend nothing is happening. :) One of the grade levels went way out of their way for me and even had students write me notes of encouragement. Another colleague who I barely even know made me a pink wreath for my door. So thoughtful. But even those who would just genuinely ask-how are you doing? Or can I help with anything?--would just make my day. I tried to still put in 110% so people would not know how awful I was actually feeling, But those who went out of their way to check on me...it really meant a lot.
I share these things not to complain or be judgmental myself, but because you may one day know someone in the same situation. Now the 15 boys in your class-I'm not sure I even have advice for that! I'm not sure that I even figured that out this year. One thing at a time! :)