Been building a nice friendship with the security guard in my school as of late- he drives on the highway and goes my way home- if I’m working late sometimes he’ll drop me off instead of have me wait for the CTA bus. Super affirming man- always there to pick me up. And as the security guard he knows a ton on how the building runs. More importantly, he trusts me and I trust him in not relaying info we talk about back to school. This’ll make a good relationship as I’m learning the school- only been there since May.
Yesterday I was out an aide and was so stretched- and feeling generally down about the system of CPS and how I just lose resources I need on a day-to-day basis. Then, while waiting for me to finish so we could drive off into the sunset, he tells me about something yesterday afternoon- “Mr. _ (the principal) asked me today (after lunch) to go to your room and make sure you were okay. I said, “No problem.” And I go, and I come in, and you’re okay. Your class is okay. And then I left.”
I take a step back and think of how awesome that was of both him and the principal. I really don’t ever think people in the building prioritize me sometimes or think of me that way to try to help me out, so I was surprised to hear it. And I tell him, “That was really nice of (the principal) to think of me today.”
He responds back, “Well, of course. He knows how hard it can be. Just look at S in Ms. __’s class. It’s hard. But you got them. Every other year I’ve been here, the kids have been crazy. You know about M (one of my students) last year. Now he’s fine with you. You got them all. We all see it.”
"Aww, thanks, I say. It can get so hard sometimes. Feel like I’m constantly, constantly working. And glad you and Mr. __ see what I’m doing."
"And you know what it is? You handle it. You handle the situation before it goes bad. We all know you run the class. The aides take your lead. And you’re so good with the kids. You’re good."
Then he goes on about what the principal sees in me- “You’re like his pet project. This [low-incidence special education] program started __ [short] years ago, and the person who started it ran away two years later. Everyone since has come in, looking all miserable when they come in when they’re running this class. And it showed on the kids. And then all of a sudden you show up. You just show up. (in May.) And everything’s good. And you just showed up.”
I have a long way to go as a teacher, but hearing that…ooh, that made my month. That the principal sees what I’m doing, wants to make sure I succeed, even in small ways like bringing me a rug or sending the security guard in to check on my class, holds this vision of who I am and what I can become in my room, and is investing in me- that’s amazing. Sometimes having someone hold you to high expectations can be enough to push you forward- that’s what I’m trying to push my students toward every day, and it seems my principal thinks similarly. Also that people at school see what I put in and want me here. As I keep hearing from others in the building, the principal may not be perfect, but he picks his staff well and knows what he’s doing there. I would agree- everyone at my workplace has been amazing and supportive to myself and everyone around them, and I trust them generally. Glad to see that I’m actually appreciated at my workplace. The small things really matter at work, and the fact that I have a union, too, to back me up and protect my work conditions (not losing my preps, giving me a functional amount of time to eat lunch and wind down) make a huge difference- did not feel that at the charter school I worked at my first year. And I see the notice, the appreciation, in the eyes of the parents, who I generally have good relationships with, and the students, who know we have fun together but know I’ll lay down the law and stick by it when needed.
I’m also glad that people see the joy I come in with every day and will let me know if I look up or down. They know I’m being truly honest in the building with myself- I’m not miserable! And they check in on me in the teachers lounge, just as I check in on them. I remember the teacher last year who came near the end and who was teaching my class. I checked in on her, asking if everything was good- she told me how she looked fine in the school setting, but (in the car ride home- apparently I learn more from car rides than at school haha) that she cried every night. Every night. What?! I thought to myself, wow, that’s nuts. Can’t even imagine teaching well like that. IN FACT, I CAN BECAUSE THAT WAS THE END OF MY FIRST YEAR TEACHING. I was so in denial trying to get through my first year that I wouldn’t admit my depression or sadness about it all. That feels like a lifetime ago!!! Man. What a difference experience, time, and a new environment make. Just glad I am honest with myself and know that mood and feeling affects my teaching and my work.
So, so, so glad that when I’m here that I know what I’m doing and want to be here every day- waking up in the morning is no longer a chore, and I come in all excited now to do my work every day, knowing every day is a new day and that I’m building emotional, social, and academic relationships that are core to my students’ lives. I know clearly the difference I am making. Now gotta do what I gotta do to grow and actually stay on as said teacher. I really feel good about the work I’m doing and just want to keep up the momentum. And I’m glad to see it’s paying off with my students, and that, truly, people in the building notice. It makes a world of difference, especially when I’m feeling down about life and feel like I can never get everything done.