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January Second

My word last year was ‘enough’. I don’t know if this was the word I felt attached to at the start of the year or if along the way it became my word. But ‘enough’ became most evident for me at work. Over and over again it became the word that hurt me. Rather than it acting as a bold declaration of who I wanted to become, it was a painful reminder of what I continued to lack. At work I consistently felt like I wasn’t enough.

I’m not a very good teacher by any means, and before you rush to protect me from myself, please hear me out. I’m not a good teacher, because I don’t often teach. Royce, my co-teacher, he is a good teacher. He teaches the kids how to cook apple cider and how to use power tools. He tells them to stop running in the classroom, and they listen. I, on the other hand, don’t teach them how to cook or how to use tools. I love them with all of my heart, and they know that. But because ‘enough’ was my word and because it kept coming around to haunt me, I started to believe that my love for them wasn’t enough. Therefore, I wasn’t a very good teacher because I wasn’t doing enough.

Though my word ‘enough’ made me almost crack under the pressure, it also taught me about my limits. The thing with ‘enough’ is that there will never be too much or too little. It’s a double-edged sword. On some days I could walk confidently and joyfully knowing that my love for my students and the way I cared for them was enough to be a good teacher. On other days I broke down in tears at the thought of not being or not doing enough for them, therefore I wasn’t a good teacher. It was a choice I had to make. What side of the fence was I going to walk on. Would I choose to believe I was enough or would I worry about not making the cut?

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This year, I’m intentionally choosing to believe that I’m enough. It’s a new year- a new semester, and I get to start over clean slate. I walked into my classroom this morning knowing that I didn’t have to keep doing more and more and more. What I had to do was do the best I could little by little by little. My goal for this semester is to not get bogged down by the pressures of being perfect. I’m not going to strive for the unrealistic. Rather, I’m going to stop telling myself lies only to start believing them after a while. I am a good teacher. I do the very best with what energy and time and patience I have. For eight hours a day my needs come second, and the needs of sixteen small people come first. And that’s ok. I’m going to work with that. Little by little, day by day, every minute my kids make me want to rip my hair out or roll my eyes back to my brain, I’m going to take a deep breath and remind myself that regardless of what lies are trying to creep into my head, I am a good teacher.

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