This is number ten. The tenth year I’ve started school as a teacher.
Or I could count it as number twenty-seven: the twenty-seventh year I’ve started school as either a student or a teacher.
That’s a lot of first days of school.
But this one might have been the hardest.
Okay, so I don’t actually remember how kindergarten went or what the first day of middle school was like, but this was certainly the most difficult first day as a teacher.
For approximately the past eight months, I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety. In February of last year, I took a leave of absence from school that lasted until the end of the school year. Perhaps you can see why starting back to school this year was so difficult. I had been out of the classroom and away from teaching for so long that I wasn’t sure how I would do coming back.
Suffice it to say the first day was anxiety-ridden and exhausting. In fact, the whole first week was that way. I spent a lot of time with my counselor, and I shed a lot of tears in the evenings. I faced hurdle after hurdle: the first day with students, the first staff meeting with other teachers, the first block day (i.e. longer classes), etc. I so desperately wanted to quit school and stop pushing through all the difficult challenges. By Thursday night, I was running on empty, and by the weekend, I was desperate for a break.
The interesting thing was that the easiest part of school was time spent teaching in the classroom. During that whole first week, I struggled with rising anxiety while I waited for classes, but when the students walked through the door, my teacher brain took over and I actually enjoyed the time. Then the students left and I began to worry again about every little thing. It was at least an encouragement that I could still teach and that I still enjoyed the students. Before that week, I wasn’t sure what I would find.
The second week of school was much better. Again, I loved being in the classroom with the students, and this time, my anxiety between classes was much lower. Part of the change was because I’ve started on some new medications that I think are finally working for me. Another part was that by week two I had already jumped all the big hurdles so I knew I could face each challenge. Finally, I think that prayer has made a difference.
I know that a lot of people have been praying for me during these last two weeks. I am so thankful for the prayers, and I attribute much of my success to the intercessory support of friends and family. Thank you to those who have prayed. I have two weeks under my belt, but there’s still a lot of the school year left. Pray that God will continue to help me bear each burden and enjoy the ministry to which He has called me.
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This year, I am serving part-time in the classroom, though I still have approximately 50 students. I am teaching only senior English classes, and I have three of them. This cuts down on the work load–the planning and the grading–and the time that I have to be physically present on-campus. I am thankful that Charles and I were able to make this change for my health this year.