|The future third-graders, looking so grown up.|
At the end of my first year of teaching, I am thankful for...
1. Survival. If I'm going to be real, I was often uncertain that I would make it to this day. Physically making it to summer break is something for which I am endlessly grateful.
2. Humility. If you want a knock to your ego, go sign up for Teach For America. I guess I'm sentimental for things like sad movies and sappy commercials, but I never thought of myself as a weak person who breaks down and cries over things. Then life said to me: "Welcome to this year, Anna," and the waterworks began. On lunch breaks. On the drive home. Random other times. It's ridiculous to admit, but it's also an overwhelming feeling to be a teacher at my school and for my kids. To modify a Seinfeld-ism: "First, you cry, and then your data comes in after the standardized tests are scored and... you cry again." It was a good thing for me to realize that I am not good at everything right away, even when I put in an enormous amount of effort (it knocked this grade-chasing-overachiever down a few pegs). This has been such an important lesson.
3. Hilarity. I have so, so, so many funny memories with my kids. So many quotes. So many weird interactions. So many moments of chaos. I'm giggling to myself right now even thinking of them all.
4. Revelation. This year has also been one of some tough realizations about the harsh reality of this world. My eyes have definitely been opened. I will never be the same.
5. People. I have met so many new people in this first year in Chicago through this experience with Teach For America. I am so thankful for them all. I am amazed at the variety of humanity that God has made and put into my life. They are the real live people, with skin and hair and personalities. They are so much more real than statistics, numbers, or data points. They are teachers, students, coworkers, friends, and other acquaintances and they are all amazing.
6. Discontentment. Yes, I am even thankful for the uneasiness I still feel about this whole thing, right now as I type. I feel dissatisfied about my abilities as a teacher, I feel worried about the safety and progress of my kids over the summer, and I feel anxious about the system as a whole and the injustices that happen here on a daily basis. I'm thankful that I don't feel at peace with all of those things because I know it will just be motivation to become better, to try harder, to accomplish more. I don't want to feel complacent and I don't ever want to be desensitized to the realities that we all so desperately need to change.
7. Faithfulness. I've seen it out of my friends and family, so much. But most of all, I've seen it from God. I have never been so blown away as I have this year at the unbelievable ways that God takes care of me. He always does. Even when I'm crying in the bathroom, schools around the city are closing down, and there's a shooting a block from where we go outside for recess, God is faithful to us. That's the thing I'm most thankful for.
Now if you'll excuse me, good night to you all. I'll be over here in Pilsen. Going to sleep. Without setting an alarm. (!!!!!!!)