Return to Work (shorter version)

Back in September, I was writing about returning to work after a leave of absence. I was in the “teacher funded leave” program and just finished my year away from school.

This return to work was of a much shorter variety. After moving through doctor’s appointments, referrals, specialists, and tests, almost two years later, I had surgery. My recovery time was just over 6 weeks and I was cleared to resume my duties in the class.

It’s strange that I felt a little nervous going back. I feel similarly every September, wondering about my classes, and students, planning, meeting yearly goals. It surprised me a little to feel anxious getting back.

I think I worried a little bit about what I was coming back to. I had started the semester, established a calendar, long and short range goals, class room routines, and was getting to know my students better.

Although I knew my replacement would be fine, it is out of my control. Everyone has different habits. I sometimes get “stuck in my ways” liking my desk to be organized in a certain way, or keep books in certain places. Ridiculous, I know. I mean, who cares? The back of my mind feared a mess, but the reality is, I knew everything would work out.

The short term teacher-me worried about updating procedures, marks, getting caught up with the current activities happening not only in my class, but the school as a whole.

I learned that I need to let go. (I feel it is important for me to recognize the talent, skills and knowledge of occasional teachers is strong. Shout out to all teachers – regardless of permanent employment status!) My replacement is fine. My students are fine. I will remember how to adjust attendance and log into my mark program. And even if, for some reason, it didn’t all come back to me perfectly on the first day, that is ok, too. **I will add that I did my attendance correctly every day, every period, which is impressive for me!**

My students are resilient and new and fresh ideas from other teachers are always welcome in my class. My students were in good hands and they have the ability to adjust and keep moving forward.

So, on that Monday morning, I got into my class and breathed a sigh of relief. It looked the same, but better. My desk looked the same, but topped with information of the lessons completed. My shelves looked the same, but filled with student work.

The bell rang, and out I stood in the hallway, waiting to see my students. Some just walked past with no real reaction I had returned, business as usual. Some stopped and made a point of welcoming me back with friendly greeting.

I resumed my spot at the front and my nerves washed away. We were back together again. Same us. I’m still me, class moves on. I felt relieved. And the best part? I didn’t hear once, the dreaded phrase, “We want Mr. — back” hahaha. They were either kind enough to wait until I was out of ear shot, or mature enough to recognize they are in good hands with either one of us leading the charge.

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