It's not the Christmas presents or the Valentine's chocolates or even the end of the year "You're the best!" mugs. Nope. Not even close. Sure those things are nice, but that's not what I think the greatest gifts are.
I remember watching the Ted Talk with Rita Pierson and sitting there thinking to myself... "YOU ARE SO RIGHT." Now maybe others have had other experiences, but I can say that I had AMAZING teachers growing up. My goal as a teacher is to give my students the best of the best and show them every single day that they are loved. I truly believe that a student who feels loved, who laughs a lot, and who feels safe is going to learn WAY more than a student who doesn't feel that way.
So what are these greatest gifts? I'll tell you.
Wow! Lets just start there. It's been a whirlwind of years between 2019 and the start of 2020. My husband quit his job and started a new position elsewhere. I went a month without health insurance and had some health issues that rang up some bills. My dog needed TPLO surgery (ACL surgery), I had an accident with my car, my hubs has had his fair share of health issues and here we are still paying for our regular necessities.
I had my worst anxiety attack in years on Friday. I couldn't stop. I couldn't stop thinking. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop doubting myself. I felt like I was failing. I was falling. The world was caving in. It all was crumbling and I couldn't gain control. There's so much in a teacher's life and career that can attribute, cause, and ultimately be the main source of anxiety.
I feel this topic is becoming more and more prevalent in the upcoming days. I feel that people are starting to truly come out of their shells and say, "Hey! I have anxiety too." It's not an easy thing to say nor an easy thing to admit. It's hard because very few people understand what anxiety is truly like. Until you have anxiety, you really have no idea.
Every year a new group of munchkins enters a school eager to figure out what this big building holds in place. Some day I'd love to be the first teacher they meet and spend their year with. But for now, I'll settle as the second. I'll settle as the first grade teacher who perks their interest into one of the most challenging years of their school lives. I will be the hero in their stories when they talk about who helped them learn how to read and who helped them with their math.
When my husband told me he'd accepted a position as a correctional officer in our home state, I had no idea what I was in for. We've been through this for nearly seven years. We've been through two different prisons. We've been through two different prison populations. We've been through two different commutes. Multiple shifts, always the same experiences.