The weight of the day was felt in every inch of my body. I fought back the tears as I looked up to the clock.
I still had eighteen minutes until I was free.
As I walked back to my desk, I browsed my surroundings. Colorful and bright, I had made the classroom an inviting place, but at that moment I wanted out.
I wanted to run,
to throw open the doors,
offering my resignation as I ran by,
escaping the complete and utter chaos that was my class.
This was not the job I had imagined.
My naivete in full bloom. Promised a class of language and learning disabled kindergartners, instead multiple social and emotional impairments met my novice self. Resources were lacking, and being a new teacher I had yet to understand the need to advocate for myself.
Instead I wallowed in silence.
I brought it all home, but candy coated it for my family and friends.
Through gritted teeth I'd say "It's not so bad" or "I know it will get better", knowing the opposite.
I dreaded each day, but each morning arrived one of the first in the building.
I dreaded not being there, for fear of what would happen in my absence.
It was too much.
I dropped my head onto the desk, and wrapped my arms around. In this little cocoon, I hid my tears. It was only October. The thought of eight more months made me nauseous. How could I do this, I wondered?
I heard the knock on the open door.
Lifting my head, I saw Chris, a fantastic occupational therapist assigned to the majority of my students.
"Can I come in? I need to talk about a few programs." she asked.
Wiping the tears from my face, I faked a smile and shrugged an okay.
The next thirty minutes programs were never addressed, instead the flood gates opened and I confessed all my misgivings.
The fears and struggles I had been embarrassed to share, the frustrations, the irritations, the sadness. There she sat, listening as the tears returned.
Emotionally spent, I looked to her and she said what I needed to hear:
As we walked out together that day, I realized I would be okay and maybe even happy in the class, eventually.
That was nearly nine years ago and I still consider Chris one of the finest unofficial mentors I have every had. She saved me, honestly, from changing fields.
Thank you Chris!
This week you were asked to write about a mentor, someone who guided or inspired you. How did your mentor impact your life?