When I found out that I had the opportunity to switch to 5th grade math & science next year, I felt two very strong, very opposite emotions: overwhelming excitement…and fear.
I’m not afraid of 5th graders. I’m not afraid of teaching math and science. I’m afraid of change.
I’ve struggled with change ever since I was a kid. And who doesn’t? It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s different from our norm.
My life has been a long series of uncomfortable changes that have shaped me to be the person I am today. Some of those changes were my choice, and some of them were not, but all of them pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me a better person.
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
Every time I faced change in my life, I felt fear creep into my gut. And I’m not even talking big changes, like moving up to middle school. I’m talking like sleeping over a relative’s house I’d never slept at before or sitting with new kids at lunch. But when it comes to big changes, I also remember it taking me far longer than normal to adapt to our new house when I was a kid. Not because it wasn’t a great house (my mom is amazing and tried to comfort me by making sure I had a super cool room), but just because it was different.
My parents have been separated my whole life, so my childhood in general involved a whole lot of flexible scheduling and awkward social situations. Many people would read at that and say “Wow, it must have been hard to split your time as a kid”, and yeah, there were definitely times it was challenging. (Did I mention I’m a little socially anxious around new people?) But because of all that unavoidable change, I’ve been blessed with an army of amazing family members who are always there to support me and do whatever it takes to make it work. They’ve taught me to adapt and make the best of whatever situation I was in.
Each change in my life was necessary, and each one shaped me in a big way. That’s probably why when it was time to choose a college, I, a small-town kid from Connecticut, chose to go 1,100 miles away to the very large, incredibly awesome University of Florida. Talk about a BIG change! And although I knew UF was far, and I knew that it would take creativity to make the move, I also knew that it’s the place that would grow me the most. And in the end, it was the best decision I ever made.
We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are – Max Depree
So the older I get and the more I reflect on my past, I’ve realized something. Change is necessary.
Experiencing it is the only way we can truly grow. All of the major changes in my life presented a challenge, and by overcoming that challenge, I grew stronger/smarter/braver/etc. Change is the catalyst for improvement, innovation, and a whole lot of learning.
That’s why when I was offered the chance to switch from teaching Kindergarten to teaching 5th grade math and science, my answer was a resounding HELL YES and I told that little fearful voice in the back of my head that I would deal with her later. Is it going to be a challenge? Abolutely! I’ve grown quite comfortable after 4 years in my cozy kindergarten world. But I also know that this change will push me to be a better educator.
So, to all of you out there switching grade levels next year, whether it was your choice or not, embrace it! Learn as much as you can from the opportunity and take it one day at a time. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, you can always switch back next year. 😉
Kindergarten, it’s been real. 5th Grade, here I come!