In December of 2000, I walked into a ninth grade English classroom to meet some of the students I would have the privilege of student teaching after Christmas break.
Since that moment I have been a high school teacher.
Oh, I have taught lots of subjects: English 9, Honors English 10, English 11, Honors English 11, English 12, Mass Media, Drama, Speech, Humanities, Applied Writing, Study Skills, Spanish 1, and Spanish 2.
I have been in two different high school buildings in the same district and even traveled to teach 9th graders when they were moved to the junior high.
I went through the combining of the two high schools.
I was an adviser for Student Council, headed the 11th grade state testing, was senior class adviser, and ran the Students of the Month program.
I have chaperoned proms and homecomings and swirl dances. I have been to countless sports games, band and choir concerts, and theater productions.
I’ve spoken at award ceremonies and been given awards by students.
I’ve been to 13 graduations, helped with the ceremony in at least half of those, and gone to numerous graduation open houses.
I’ve hugged and cried with students as they succeed or fail.
I am a high school teacher.
Actually, I was a high school teacher.
For thirteen years.
As of last week, I am now a middle school teacher.
I got the email/call from my principal and from central office that an ELA position (and three other high school positions, actually) had to be eliminated at the high school due to budget cuts, but because of retirements and resignations, there were not going to be any job losses, but people would have to be shuffled around. I was chosen to be one of those people.
This summer I will pack up my classroom that I have only been in for two years (because of the high schools combining, I moved to the high school building two years ago) and move to the junior high.
This fall I will be an 8th grade ELA teacher (unless the schedule changes, which it might. I could be teaching anything from 7-9 ELA or Spanish. But the chances are zero that I will stay at the high school).
I went through a lot of emotions last week. The strongest were rage and sadness. I was also confused. I don’t think I reacted as well as I could have and I said a lot of things without thinking them through. As with many things, I reacted strongly and quickly. It didn’t help that I was already staring down at the hole that is depression. This pushed me into the hole.
But after a week of talking things through with Cortney and one of my most trusted professional friends, I have come to the conclusion that I am not mad that I am going to teach 8th grade ELA. I am not unhappy about working at the Junior High. Our district is amazing. Working in any of our buildings means a chance to influence and help kids.
No, I am grieving a change in my identity.
After 13 years, I am no longer a high school teacher. That is what is hardest about all this.
It’s not moving buildings or teaching a different class. I’ve done those things before with no problem.
It’s not working with new staff or a new department. I’ve done that too.
Being a high school teacher was who I was. It was part of my identity. In the blink of an eye, my identity has been changed. And because of that I am grieving.
I know everything will work out and that my new position will be fine. I look forward to the people I get to work with in my “new” department, and the administration at the Junior High is awesome. It will be fine.
But it’s still hard, ya know?
I loved my seniors this past year. They rekindled my love of teaching. Perhaps that is exactly what I needed before this new adventure. I thought that the great year meant that I was finally in the place I needed to be. But maybe it was preparing me for the place I needed to be.
For all who donated books, fear not! They will come with me while I build my library at the Junior High. Some may be stored due to being too adult for 13 year olds, but I am still planning to do Reading Workshop with my 8th graders. In fact, I added some more age-appropriate titles to my Class Library Wish List if you are still thinking of donating. Thank you all for your support. You are my village.