This is my fourteenth year as a high school English teacher, and my sixteenth year in public education. I spent the last two years as an instructional coach. At the end of last school year, I knew I wanted to go back to the classroom. I wanted to teach. I missed teaching my own students. I missed the excitement when the kids understand something for the first time or felt successful where they hadn’t before. I just missed being a teacher. I liked being an instructional coach, and I feel like I was good at it, but I’m a better teacher. So, I applied for a few teaching positions open in the school district I attended as a child and in July, I was offered a position at one of the high schools.
I’ve loved every moment of being back in the classroom. It challenges me and fulfills me. I’m lucky enough to say, and mean, I love my job. It’s made this roller coaster of breast cancer easier because when I’m at work, I’m not a breast cancer patient. I’m Mrs. V. My students know I have breast cancer and have since the week after my diagnosis, but unless I’m having a bad day due to treatment, which thankfully have been rare, my life as a cancer patient doesn’t mix with my life as a teacher.
Many of my students are in extracurricular activities, and they ask me to attend when I can, or if I want to, and as a teacher, I feel one of the most important things I can do is support my students with their interests. So, I go to football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, and bowling games. I go to band and choir concerts, dance showcases, art shows, plays, and musical performances. I go to these events, and often drag my children with me, because my students ask.
Tonight was a performance night for many of my students. So, up to school I went with my son in tow. We walked into the auditorium with my principal. As we passed by a row of performers, many of them students of mine, they saw me, with my son, and yelled out, “Mrs. V! You came!” I smiled at them and laughed. My principal beamed at them. And, I just called back to them, “You all asked.” For me, it’s that simple. They asked.
For me, being a teacher is more than teaching English, grading papers, calling parents, recording grades, and completing mountains of paperwork. It’s all of that and supporting my students when I can. Going to a performance is one of the smallest things I can do, but for my students, it tells them I care about their interests, and that is an important lesson.