Tuesday, January 11, 2022

New Beginnings

Today I linked up with "Two Writing Teachers" for their Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge. My slice was a bit large...like maybe the whole cake but definitely flexed my writing muscles. 

I remember the first time I walked into the classroom. Well let me restate that, I remember the first time I walked into my OWN classroom. I had been in many classrooms before, probably hundreds between my own school years and the years I spent in and out of classrooms in college preparing for exactly this moment. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of things about teaching they don’t cover in school. One of those is how you’ll feel when you finally have your own classroom, your own group of students. For me at least, there was an immense feeling of pride and ownership, which was the expected feeling right? You’ve worked years to be in this space and you’re finally here! It was a similar feeling to when I moved into my first “grown-up” apartment after college. 

I walked in and looked around at the relatively bare walls, the empty desks piled in the corner and the fancy smart board I would need to figure out how to hook up and immediately felt a sense of adulthood. The realization that I was the one in charge and could decide what went where and how our day would go. I wasn’t copying a mentor teacher anymore, I wouldn’t have to make every move as if there was a question mark attached to it. But all of these feelings of pride and empowerment, of excitement and anticipation were coupled with an overwhelming sense of “what the heck do I do?!” Because no one had ever really taught me how to take this empty canvas of a room, which is actually packed full of a bunch of random odds and ends from the previous teacher, and turn it into the magical place of learning I’d imagined for my students. I felt stuck, like I had a to-do list a mile long but it was written in another language.

Even years later, as an experienced teacher, I can recall that same feeling, when I switched grade levels or had to move classrooms or even just when I had to put everything back together for a new year after the custodians had taken everything down to clean over the summer. That sense of “what do I do?” or “where do I even begin?” would inevitably greet me at the door of the new (or sometimes familiar) space. My mom would often offer to come help me in my classroom when we lived close to one another and I always had her wait until the 2nd of 3rd day of my being in there. Because truly that first day was a lot of me wandering around the room, stopping at different spots and wondering what purpose that part of the room would hold. And I was pretty sure I could wander aimlessly without much assistance as I tried to decipher my to-do list. 

I didn’t stay frozen forever of course. Even that first year, after my initial moments of being seemingly stuck to the patterned tile floor, of staring at a blank lesson template wondering what we’d do the first day, the moments of holding bags full of supplies unsure what to do with any of it…after those moments had passed I rolled up my sleeves and figured it out. I can still picture myself in that first classroom, putting up the bulletin boarder I’d selected, hot gluing 4 inch letter cutouts to title the boards, putting books in baskets for the library. Doing it all with a mixture of confidence and trepidation all at once. New beginnings are like that, they stick with you and freeze frame in your mind until you’re looking back on them years later and hit “replay”. And I would venture to say that more often than not they are filled with a lot of “and” feelings. Meaning, they are a lot of excitement AND nerves, comfort AND discomfort, calm AND frenzied. 

And that’s a little bit of what I feel now, in this new beginning that I’m in. A sense of “what do I do?” and “where do I even start?”. I’m not a teacher anymore, not right now anyways but when I get asked what I do, I still answer with “Oh, I’m a teacher.” Because for years that was my answer, it was part of who I was. It filled my days and lets be honest some nights too. And now, in this new town and new home that isn’t true. When we found out we were moving, and then about a week later found out we were expecting a little one, we talked it over and determined that it didn’t make sense for me to go back to teaching right away when we moved. For a lot of reasons, time to get settled, not wanting to take a job just to have to go on maternity leave, the flexibility of getting to be a stay at home mom, the safety of being home instead of surrounded by little germy hands during my pregnancy. So the decision made sense, so I’m not working. But  that feels strange sometimes. 

When I think about not teaching or get asked how I feel about it/do I miss it I can confidently say that I wouldn’t change my mind about leaving the classroom even if given the chance 100 more times. It’s one of those yes and situations. Yes I’m glad I made the decision to leave the classroom AND I miss some of what teaching was to me. Not the day to day aspects or the things that make teachers everywhere roll their eyes, but in the sense of purpose it gave me, in the direction it provided for my day to day life. Because while waiting for little one to arrive, there are many days where I find myself asking “what now?”. Days where I feel like I am metaphorically wandering my “classroom” trying to determine what goes where and what should be on the lesson plan. But my mental replay of me at 22 checking things off and making progress in a space that felt impossible at the time reminds me that’s what I need to do now too. I need to get things done, make plans even if I’m not entirely positive they’re perfect, be out of my comfort zone so I can begin to make a new one. 

So I’m writing. I’m working on building a writing routine, and a writing life. Maybe it will be for others, most of it will probably be for just me. It will be a jumble and a hodgepodge at first, just like those early days in the classroom, but I think eventually it will start to take shape and I can’t wait to see what that looks like. 


  1. I think you're very fortunate to be able to stay home as you travel this new journey you're now on. I was a stay at home Mum until my youngest was old enough for nursery and then I returned to work part time. You'll figure it out as you go and it will be interesting to read about it.

  2. Even being called a more formal title of Ms. (or Mr., etc.) _____ for the first time can be really jarring. I also taught at a school where the students called us Ms. (or Mr.) [first name] rather than by family or last name. That transition was also meaningful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Even being called a more formal title of Ms. (or Mr., etc.) _____ for the first time can be really jarring. I also taught at a school where the students called us Ms. (or Mr.) [first name] rather than by family or last name. That transition was also meaningful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think you got it all sorted in this post, Maggie. Well done! xo

  5. Well, I'd say you are a real "natural" when it comes to writing and you definitely "learned from the best." I enjoy both yours and your Mom's writing. Yes, you are in for a few new beginnings and you are also in for a whole lot of "wonderfulness." Blessings abundant!