A little over a year ago I wrote a post called Changes. I was in a bad place, overall unhappy, questioning life and wondering what direction was the “right” direction. Was I following the path destined for myself—or was life just dragging me along? And if this was the life that I was supposed to be leading why was I feeling like something was missing?
Well, if I’m honest, I still question whether or not I’m following the correct path and my life still often feels like I’m just along for the ride. But I’ve decided to Choose Joy and make some actual changes to my life along the way. Let me explain what I mean when I say Choose Joy. Back in December, I started noticing that I kept coming across the phrase Choose Joy. I saw it on t-shirts in Facebook ads, on inspirational memes, quotes on journals, and as titles of books. I originally thought, “what a nice message,” given our current society climate. But as God or the universe or whatever you believe in kept throwing this message at me, I thought maybe there was more to it.
Then I began to wonder what is My Joy? Everyone is different so it only makes sense that everyone’s Joy is a little different. I mean I love reading, coffee, running, writing, sunshine, the beach, and puppies to name a few of my favorite things. But you might love tea, television, winter, and the lake. Is my Joy right and your Joy wrong? Absolutely not. But My Joy is what I love, what makes me me. So I made a list of all the things that I love. I brainstormed and wrote whatever came into my mind that brought me happiness. They were in no particular order and some things I must really love because I wrote them down more than once.
Now let me clarify, just because I wrote all of these things down, doesn’t mean I’m Joyful all the time. I’m actually kind of moody. And I constantly go back to that list and remind myself of all the things that bring me Joy. So back to my changes. Since making that list, I’ve been trying to keep in mind the things that bring me Joy and make choices in my life based on this list. Of course, there are some things that don’t bring me Joy that I still have to do, like dishes and laundry, but having a clean house brings me Joy so I guess I can justify household chores.
Okay, so giving up chores is not my change and I did not go out and hire a full time housekeeper. So here it is, a few months ago, I found out that there was potentially going to be a few classroom teacher openings around my school. One team actually approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in coming back to the classroom to teach with them. Now, I would be lying if I said that going back to the classroom has not been on my radar for the past year, but I thought I worked so hard to get out of the classroom, that I couldn’t just leave my position as a Reading Specialist and go back. Plus teachers work hard to get out of the classroom and was I willing to just walk back into all of those classroom responsibilities that I had moved on from? The answer is yes. Next year I’m heading back into the classroom to teach 2nd grade and I couldn’t be more excited.
The truth is, I don’t know that I was really ready to leave the classroom when I did. I truly only left my position as a kindergarten teacher because the reading specialist at my school was retiring, I had a Master’s with a reading specialist endorsement on my license because I loved reading so much, and let’s face it with one or maybe two (if you’re a Title 1 school) per building, I thought I should jump at the opportunity.
Now, I’m not saying that being a reading specialist is not a Joy, but maybe it’s not My Joy or maybe it’s just not My Joy right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my students. And not to toot my own horn, but I know so much about reading development and reading instruction. But over the past four years, I’ve realized solving student reading puzzles all day long is exhausting. I’m so exhausted at the end of the day that I have nothing left for my own children. And as I’m constantly reminded as I clean out their dressers and remove all the too small clothes, my kids are growing up at an alarming rate. I don’t want to not be there for them because I’m too tired and too stressed. Also, I don’t have the freedom or time in my day to be as creative as I like to be. One of the things I love to do as a teacher is foster a love of learning and thinking, but being a remediation teacher of 10 small groups only allows time for direct, explicit teaching—all.day.long. Every teacher needs to factor in explicit teaching at times, but I need some variance and more flexibility than I currently have. And boy do I miss reading aloud to students.
Being a classroom teacher is stressful and busy too, and to be truthful I’m not sure how many years I have left in this profession if teachers aren’t more respected and compensated, but for now, I feel like this is where my path is taking me. So, ultimately I’m encouraging you to figure out what makes you happy, what brings you Joy and if you can make a change, go for it.