And it's over. The year ended for the students on Tuesday, and I have to admit that I've needed that much time to even begin processing the year. The first two days I had to myself I spent doing nothing but dropping Little Lipstick off at daycare and coming home to sleep on the couch for hours on end. It was a good year, but it was a hard year.
I don't think I am fully processing what it meant to be at a brand new school. So many little things had to be established- almost unimportant after thoughts that you normally wouldn't even think of because in most places these routines or unspoken rituals have been in place for years. Important small things like the fire drill procedure to unimportant small things like where supplies will be kept, how to get coverage for a meeting, where to hold meetings, how to reserve rooms, who do you tell when you need to get a sub, how to send students to the clinic, how to communicate between rooms, even how the flow of student traffic at dismissal will go. Every month, every new event brings another question of how we will handle something. And even if you aren't making the decisions you are impacted by the questions and newness of it all. Watching a new community of teachers, students, and parents form from what was just a building is an experience that could be a sociology thesis.
And personally I was in a brand new job myself. Although I had two of the same students I'd taught in the past, being in an official intellectual disabilities program meant I was in a whole new field as far as what sort of curriculum I was expected to teach, and some of the behaviors and abilities of my students. I learned so much. Learned isn't even the right word- grew, changed, experienced, lived- the year itself was so much. I don't think I've put in this many hours since my first year teaching.
The year WAS. It changed me as an educator, made me look at education in a new way, and refocused my thoughts on what I am doing in the field. It wasn't a good year or a bad year, it was just The Year. There will be days the rest of my life that I will regret that I was a part of The Year, and there will be days I will be truly thankful that I experienced it.
And now it is over. Well, almost over. The nature of the year meant that there are some unfinished loose ends that we'll be working on tying up all summer. So it is over on paper. At night my thoughts go to next year and not surviving the next day. The pit in my stomach of having to go back to work on Monday is still lingering, but with time will fade. I feel like I can start being the wife and friend that I just haven't been this year. I've never felt like I deserved a summer break so much.