One thing I have been told over and over again is that expectations can affect everything. I tend to always have overly optimistic expectations about any new endeavor I've started. When I first accepted this teaching position, I imagined the bliss and excitement of affecting students' lives. I imagined the summers off, ignoring the 9 months before actually having the summer off. I imagined that my all of my "honors level" students wouldn't give me any grief and that they all would be overachievers that would always turn in their homework on time.
About 3 days into the process, my expectations were shattered. I had to rebuild from the scattered pieces and make it work. I had to adjust and readjust. I had to cry and lose some sleep. I had to keep taking my medication.
As I bring this year to a close, I am all of the sudden realizing that I am sad to see a lot of my students go. Through the challenging (and good) times, we have formed relationships. My least favorite class at the beginning of the year, has become my most favored. (Yes - every teacher has favorites, even the ones who claim they don't). The class that wouldn't make a peep at the beginning of the year, now won't stop talking. The class that was the smartest overall, still is. There is something about each class that I have learned to love, and I am grieving the loss of those relationships as they and I move on.
I love my students. I love teaching. The hard part is accepting the things I don't love about teaching as is. It's so hard to not expect that those things will change. A superintendent whose motto is "relentless," and who really is so, is still going to be so. There will always be students who make you crazy and parents who make you crazier. There will always be sleepless nights and anxiety about how much chocolate I wish I wouldn't have eaten throughout the day. There will always be moments of trying to figure out when to finish lesson planning and when to put it up for the night and play with my own children.
Even as I plan the opening of my own school, I know that my expectations are off. I imagine so many better things than what I have experienced this year, and I know there will be a lot of things that are better. Yet, I also know that there will be shatterings of expectations just like I experienced this year. I also have more experience picking up the shattered pieces and forming new expectations. I know that some students I will love right away and others will make me crazy. Yet, I know that from this year's experience, that it is through those crazy times that you learn how to build relationships. You learn what it is to be a community and what doesn't work so well when you have to spend so much time together. You learn that you are in this together, for better or for worse.
As I write, I am thinking of my father and his making of stained glass pieces. They are all beautiful in their own way, yet they are all from broken pieces of glass. I've had alot of emotional shatterings this year. I know I will have more next year. But just like a stained glass created by a craftsman, my life is coming together to form a beautiful piece. I'm not ready for it to be hung a wall just yet. I'd like another 60 years or so of creation (with my mind and body intact, please).
As I close this school year, I'm (im)patiently awaiting the unfolding of the next. As hard as it has been this year, "...God saw that it was good," and I do too.