How the Spark Returned

Ten months ago, I wrote about how I was burned out on teaching in this post: Why My Fire Burned Out. Yesterday, I found myself looking at Education Master’s degree programs and even in the future, Doctorate degree programs in education and human development. That doesn’t sound like someone who is planning on leaving the profession does it? What happened?

At the end of last year, I was done. I was exhausted, I felt like I was drowning and not being the best version of myself let alone the best teacher I could be. I was not feeling inspired or driven to improve myself. Then, my administration changed, major changes were made at my school and I started feeling like people cared about student’s and student growth. This is when I started to feel my love of education start to return. Not only did I see other people care, I began feeling heard and like my opinions mattered. That changed everything.

Then, it began to spiral. One of my students came up to me at the beginning of the year. I had her step-brother last year and he was a work in progress. A brilliant student who wasn’t motivated by anything and hated everyone. By the end of the year, he would give me hugs regularly. It was a huge transformation from the kid who cringed when I would touch him on the shoulder. He transferred schools, his step-sister did not. She came up to my desk and was talking to me about her step-brother and told me how he loves and misses me, that he still talks about how I was the best teacher he ever had. Knowing me, I got emotional but had to keep it together. These are things you need to hear periodically as a teacher, to know you are actually doing some good.

Opportunities kept presenting themselves to me, maybe it was because I was seeking them out and became more active in my desire to be better (as a teacher and as a person). I went to a conference and met amazing people who had amazing ideas. I began speaking to more teachers in my building and built friendships. No matter what career you’re in, you know the importance of this. You need those people who at the end of a long day you can drink wine and talk to. I took on the school yearbook, which I bitched about doing 95% of the time, but really did learn a lot.

Finally, this week, I overheard a conversation between two of my students. One of my toughest cases, a student who literally did zero work for three quarters despite everything I did, was talking to another student. “Ms. Blake cares about me, she loves me. That’s why she’s so hard on me, she wants me to do well.” he then sees me near by, “Right, Ms. Blake? You love all of us and that’s why you get frustrated when we don’t do our best?” Again, I had to keep my shit together and not turn into a puddle in front of twenty-seven 5th graders. “Yes,” I said. “That’s exactly why I get so frustrated because I love you and want you all to be successful and good people.” Then I felt little arms around my waist and looked down and saw another one of my boys who I’ve fought tooth and nail with all year. All he said was, “I knew it! I knew you loved us.”

And I do love them. They are my children, which is why they drive me insane sometimes. I love my job despite all the bullshit that comes with it. I love and value education and want to see improvements in the education system especially in urban areas. What I guess I’m saying is, apparently I’m in it for the long haul and my fire is being reignited.



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