It is with a huge sigh of relief and resounding sense of accomplishment that I am able to say that I have successfully survived my first term as a Remedial Education teacher. With an entirely new school and new class, I was undoubtedly faced with a mountain of new challenges. However,having made a promise to myself to make this move work, I began the year with a drastic change of heart, and in return, found myself again. I say this because as I am writing this, I feel re-energized, content, and most importantly, INSPIRED!
Those closest to me know that I am a firm believer in following God’s call for your life and growing where you are planted. Desperate for a change, for a re igniting of dwindling flame within myself, I took possibly the biggest leap of faith in my young teaching career thus far and walked through the door of opportunity presented to me…a fairly unfamiliar looking door that would lead me in an entirely different direction. Has it been scary? HECK YES! Have I felt the pressure? WITHOUT A DOUBT! Do I have any regrets…reflecting on all that I have accomplished, NOT IN THE LEAST!
I will be entirely honest and say that in the beginning I certainly felt the pressure to inspire and motivate the 12 little souls entrusted to me. I started off with all the preconceived notions that because they have been placed in a remedial school, many of whom have been taken out of the mainstream environment and re placed, that they have come to be labelled by others and by themselves as the “misfortunate ones”, the “they will not survive ones” and the “just do what you can ones”. Thankfully I was mistaken! For in fact, it is in the smiles and determination of each one of them that I have in fact found my inspiration.
Whilst there is no denying that the challenges each one of them faces seems gigantic to most, to them, it is simply something we will work through to overcome, one step at a time. From Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and performance anxiety, to depression and unimaginable family trauma…the culmination of challenges in my classroom and the ability to persevere despite the odds has deeply touched me. So much so that I feel driven to be the best I can be so that they can receive the best because truth be told, I know that as a young teacher I have so much enthusiasm, creativity and passion within in me…but somewhere amidst the large class sizes, poor parental support structure, tireless marking and paper chasing, I found myself lost.
In varsity we were taught that a vital key to effective teaching is the ability to self reflect, to self criticize and to adapt each lesson accordingly. One of the hardest yet most humbling things I have had to do was to look deep within myself and admit that I was doing something wrong. To admit that I had allowed all the negative energy surrounding the challenges of public education cloud my judgement and let it effect me to such an extent that I was no longer the teacher I had set out to be. I am by no means perfect and have many years of life lessons ahead of me but as I reflect on my journey thus far, I am proud to say that I am certainly on track to finding that teacher I set out be again. Each morning I enter my classroom with a sense of excitement and purpose, and as I smile at the empty desks knowing full well that as the bell goes they will be filled with the most remarkable little beings…I am at peace.