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Thoughts on: 11 Years of Teaching

Tuesday marks a milestone for me and my career. I have been a teacher since I graduated college in 2010 and will be having my last day after eleven years. I taught kindergarten for two years, k/1 combo for two years, 1st grade for four years and have been part-time for the last three years in a 4k room at a daycare where I was lucky enough to bring my own kiddos to.

Things have changed a ton in 11 years in the education field and add in Covid rules/regulations and it couldn't be more different from when I started. Curriculum changes, class sizes, required recess duty, technology implementation all have ebbed and flowed since 2010. The one thing that doesn't... the amount of Care a teacher gives to his/her students on a daily basis. I know it may be cliché, but teaching really is more than just teaching. You get to know students and their families. You spend 7 hours a day together. You have siblings multiple years in a row. Phone calls, emails, a talk on the playground at pick up time and conferences all connect us more with parents.

I've put on countless band-aids, kept my cool and calmed a kiddo with a broken arm and hugged sad little ones until my arms were sore. But beyond physical caring, so much more comes with a teacher-as-a-caregiver role. I called and emailed parents when I suspected something was up with their child. I always had pretzel sticks on hand. I made special trips to the public library to fill in holes and find specific interests for my students. I put in late hours and early mornings making sure I was a prepared as could be to teach and care for my students. I put extra effort into behavior rewards for deserving and improving kids. I cared for my fellow teachers/teammates by being part of the Sunshine committee and being a listening ear. Teachers care for each other as much as they do students it seems.

I am beyond excited for Violet to start 4k on Friday. I have loved peeking in her new classroom and seeing all the fun dramatic play she will get to do. The little name tags on the coat hooks in the hallway make me excited. School supply shopping: a dream! You all may think I'm crazy but it's the truth. I've been thinking a lot about her teacher, who is a veteran teacher in the Menomonee Falls district. What can I do to make her year better? What could I possibly get/tell her to convey how thankful I am she is caring for my daughter for 3 hours a day? It is going to be so different yet so fun being on the opposite side now as a parent. Here's to hoping that parent volunteers are allowed in and PTO events will take place at some level this school year!

What does this mean for me personally and for The Right Relief Inc? I'm moving from the title of "teacher" to that of full time "caregiver." I continue to care for my kids. I now get to have more time to care for caregivers. I can cook more meals filled with Relief. I can devote time to social media and spreading our mission. I can bake treats in the mornings for Kathy's House guests. I can put energy into what's next for The Right Relief Inc. We will be at the halfway point of our 5,475 meal goal very soon. We are only going to reach it faster now that I'm full time caregiving. So, I'll ask again: what's next? How else can we provide Relief? These are exciting yet nerve-wracking questions. Then I remember: I started an NPO and that definitely made me nervous to start. But, 1600 meals later I can't imagine not having taken the leap (with a nudge over the edge from my family, mostly Kyle!).

I will miss reading to my class, trips to the school library, holiday/school celebrations and the funny things kids say and come up with. Seeing student growth from beginning to end of year was also a highlight. I will miss interacting with other adults on a daily basis. I may miss the "structure" of a school day. Will I go back eventually? Only time will tell. I will enjoy the work I "get" to do after my kids go to bed. I won't dread Sunday nights. I will continue to make connections with some of the most kind and caring people, just not in a school setting.

I could carry on and am getting a tad emotional so let's end with this profound thought from the woman who put the idea in my head that I should have, set and achieve goals: Rachel Hollis. "If it's not challenging you, it's not changing you."

The Right Relief Inc has been a fun challenge from the beginning and I do feel like it's made me more confident and awake to a world of possibilities outside of a classroom. I certainly have even more empathy and compassion for all the Caregivers do everyday. Here's to the future!

Last day cards and flowers from students and staff!

Just a bit too sunny for Violet's last picture at her first ever school!

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