In preparation for maternity leave I am typing pages and pages of notes. A daily skeleton, lesson plan tips, behavior and learning modifications, incentive and consequence systems, instructional guidelines. I am on page 15 and I am not done. Explaining to someone how you do your job really puts things in perspective. Teachers do a thousand things every day. Teachers at Aspire probably do two thousand, or at least it feels like it.
This whole process has reminded me of how lucky I was to be a resident teacher. I cannot imagine what summer training and those first months on my own would have felt like without watching and practicing for an entire year. So many of my tricks I got from my mentor, or at least borrowed until I came up with tricks of my own. Walking away, even if just for part of a year, is more challenging than I imagined. I worked so hard to set-up my classroom. I feel proud of my systems and routines. I am bonded to my students and my coworkers. It is only February, we still have more learning to do, but it is going to happen without me!
The residency ingrained Aspire into my identity, a strange realization as I prepare to add a new dimension to who I am. Last night, my doula asked me to describe the most difficult feat I have ever accomplished and soon I found myself describing my year as a resident teacher. When I introduced a fellow resident graduate to my mom at my baby shower, my friend commented, “Yeah, we’ve been through some serious stuff together.” I often laugh to friends that teaching has changed the way I will raise my children, with more patience and a stronger voice than I ever had before.
The truth is, teaching has changed me. It has made me tougher in a way that benefits every other part of my life. And, it all started with a program that kicked my butt. To all you residents and future residents out there, it is worth it, not just for the job you will do, but for the person you will become. Abigail Adams said it best, “It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed.”
Olivia O’Bryon Mackey
Resident Graduate (Cohort 1)
4th/5th Grade Teacher, Aspire Alexander Twilight College Prep Academy