Last week of school! After nearly eight years of stay at home motherhood, I’ve spent the last year working as an educational assistant at a local elementary school. I’ve spent most of my year teaching (and adoring!) first and fifth grade reading intervention groups and also working alongside an amazing fourth grade teacher to implement a new district writing curriculum. Beyond that, I spent time each day offering words of encouragement, problem solving wall-ball disputes, assisting in behaviorally challenged student cases, distributing Band-Aids, and just generally loving and learning along side the students.
As I reflect upon the year I’ve realized a few things and compiled a short list of them here so that I can remember the year that was. A year that was absolutely, positively, meant to be.
1. The optometrist that I worked for many years ago was wrong. I’m not a mediocre employee, I just wasn’t one of his favorites. Turns out I’m pretty good at holding down a job. Especially one that changes lives and overflows with joy.
2. Kids still chew the eraser off of pencils, just like we did when we were kids. Eye rolling and note passing are still very much in full swing as well.
3. The single crooked tooth in my smile once became the topic of questioning and education in a group of first graders. I think I can transform almost anything into an opportunity to learn; being a mom prepared me for this.
4. Fifth graders, who I was at first unsure of working with on account of not yet mothering a child of that age, are some of my FAVORITE students to be with. Really, they’re the best! I’m sad to see them move on from elementary, but happy to see them bloom.
5. My body and skin have aged at least 10 years in the last 9 months. (OK, that’s probably an exaggeration.) (But not by much.)
6. My spirit, however, has become youthful and free. Also wiser. Working with kids has caused both.
7. The kids that the other faculty “warned” me about (always with love and support), turned out to be some of my best buddies. I’m drawn towards working with kids that just aren’t quite there yet.
8. There is too much sadness and poverty and abuse to even begin. My heart sinks at the pain that some children are subject to.
9. I don’t think I could ever be a classroom teacher. Those people deserve tremendous respect, a statue, and a serious pay increase.
10. Summer break, or reentering retirement as I like to call it, is a MAJOR perk and I plan on living it to the fullest by:
a. Not wearing makeup for at least a month (ish) and when I do, pairing it with my high heels who have missed me so.
b. NOT PACKING SCHOOL LUNCHES FOR MYSELF NOR MY KIDS!!
c. Focusing on my own sweet babes and husband, reading, camping, playing, gardening, grocery shopping at a walking – not mad-dashing- pace.
It has been a phenomenal year. A job that I thought I was just randomly walking into turned out to be one of the most life changing years of my life. I think I may have found my niche.