I’m trying to remember a time in my life where I smiled as much as I did today…
I woke up at 5:30 this morning, I checked my internet browser to see if any substitute positions had opened up for the morning. Still half asleep I noticed that there was one opening, 6th grade communication arts, and it was located in the middle school that I spent so much time in during the 2013-2014 school year prior to taking the social media consultant job.
Nearly falling back asleep I selected the job, knowing that along with when school started and how far away I live compared to the building, I realized that there wasn’t any sleep that would be coming back. I was up for good. After arriving at the school (way too early) I noticed that suddenly I was extremely nervous. This was the school that I was hoping to get a job with last year, and it was the same one where I had finally clicked with students and faculty alike. I was involved in meetings, worked with students in and out of class, and felt like I was a part of the building…to the best of my ability. This was the school I walked away from last November when a new job came calling. Weeks into the new job I was still have nightmares from all the kids that I had left, and seemingly “bailed” on the teachers without even a courtesy letter.
I was scared to go through the doors this morning because I, a mere substitute, was afraid that people would hate me for leaving them without even saying goodbye.
By 7:35 I had signed in and I heard the first words that set the tone for the day:
Have a great day! We’re glad that you’re back with us!
The office remembered me. Down the stairs, two flights, take a left, down the long hallway pass the ‘cafe’ (AKA cafeteria), and the second down on my left. The same as it had been last year. Interestingly enough this was the first teacher in 6th grade that I had ever covered for, so the brief history of that was enough to get me misty eyed. While working on unlocking the door I heard a squeal from behind me:
OH MY GOSH! YOU’RE BACK? YOU’RE BACK! TELL ME YOU’RE BACK! WE CAN HAVE YOU BACK, RIGHT?
The next thing I knew I had a 6th grade teacher hugging me, one of the ‘partner teachers’ to the one that I was filling for (these were two of the three that I was constantly with last year). I was taken back for the fact that I was hugged because I had returned to this school as a substitute teacher, the same school that I left behind last year. After explaining my recent adventures to her, I stepped into the classroom to get the day prepared for the students. It wasn’t even ten minutes before the third teacher stepped into the classroom, took a step backwards out of shock, and calmly (she’s the mother the three) said:
Welcome back. I heard that you were in the building, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes. How are you? Let me tell you about the 6th grade class this year compared to last year…
We talked about students from last year that were now in 7th grade, chatted about the behaviors in the new class, and briefly talked about curriculum directions within the school. I was home, I was on cloud nine at this point, and I hadn’t even seen a single student at this point. I had stepped into the hallway to talk to this instructor, and that’s when I saw/heard this woman from down the hall:
It is you! Give me a hug, it’s great to see you again!
Next thing I knew I had another 6th grade teacher hugging me on my first day back in this building. I never filled for her in the ’13-’14 year, but I had several encounters with her throughout the year. I’m not a person who enjoys physical contact, but all of this meant the world to me. The whole time all I could do was smile, I had no idea what to say, what to think, anything…the only thing that came to mind was to just smile.
I learned later that one of the instructors from the 6th grade hall had gone up to the office and spoke to the principal about me (the principal is new this year), and informed him that I’m their sub and no one else can have me. Also, when he’s ready to add the next classroom into the 6th grade, the 6th grade teachers will inform him that I’m the only candidate for the position. Do you know what it’s like for people to just be inherently kind? There’s no pity, no sorrow, they don’t know your back story, they just know how you conduct yourself in their classrooms. Blessed isn’t even a term good enough to describe this day.
God wasn’t done though. He had one more reminder for me before the day was out. 7th grade students are never in the 6th grade hall, there’s no reason for them to be there. However, at least six different 7th grade boys found ways into the 6th grade hall.
Because they heard I was in their school. These kids who I knew when they were in 6th grade spent the day coming into the classroom I was in, just to see me because they heard that I was there. Even though it wasn’t even for their class. I’m sure that happens to a ton of people, but that gesture…especially from some of the most behaviorally challenged students I’ve ever met…meant everything to me.
There’s nothing else to type, nothing else to write. Today was a perfect day inside a school, and frankly I’m still in shock at the reception that I received when people found out that I was back in their building.
I am underserving of this joy.