Damaged but Repairing

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I have officially survived and succeeded at my first year as a secondary education teacher. I learned a lot, and I mean a LOT. Next year will be far better, wherever life chooses to put me.

I’ve learned a fair bit about the education system, how it works (and sometimes doesn’t), how classroom management is of paramount importance, the value of being genuine when it comes to caring about students, and that teaching is for me. To be honest, I may adopt one day. Skip the diapers and terrible twos and crap. Heck, I still want to adopt so many of my now former students. So many of them deserve better lives than what they have.

I’ve learned a lot about curriculum building, lesson planning managing my time as an educator, some teaching methods that don’t work, and what methods are more effective than others. I’ve seen firsthand how education has changed since I graduated high school–well, perhaps it hasn’t changed so much as it’s not consistent across the country. I dunno. I can’t quantify my findings based on such a tiny sampling of schools.

I’ve learned it’s nigh impossible to NOT care about every last one of your students, even the ones that make you want to pull your hair out. They’re young, they need guidance, they need compassion, patience, and understanding. Thus, I care.

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I look forward to applying all I’ve learned to whichever school and body of students will have me next. I’m very curious to see where life will take me next over the summer. Wherever it is, it’ll be where I belong.

Last fall, I mentioned something about why life had put me in the school I’ve just been laid off from. To my great disappointment, I was wrong. It was for a lot of other reasons, including a few friends I hope to keep to the end of our days.

There are quite a few hard lessons I learned as well. Even though I’m no longer the district’s employee, I’m going to avoid getting into detail on certain things out of prudence and a need to heal psychologically and emotionally.

My mom and my friend Darlyne both said it sounds like I’m suffering from PTSD. Neither of them have ever spoken to each other so it’s interesting that they jumped to the same conclusion. I suffered from PTSD once before, when I was 18. I’d undergone just over three weeks of basic training with the Air Force before getting honorably discharged (long story). I spent weeks reliving episodes like a war veteran, my biggest triggers being mealtimes and state troopers wearing combat boots and those flat-brimmed hats. Thankfully, it went away with time and several therapy sessions to un-jumble my brain.

What I’m going through feels similar but I don’t relive moments in class so much as I space out for seconds at a time, my mind racing with thoughts. I get upset stomachs a lot, I’m constantly tense, and I have developed an annoying habit of waking up at exactly 5:11 A.M. every day. Driving towards the school creates anxiety and I don’t want to go there ever again if I can help it.

The last day of school was May 19. I figured my job being done there, I’d finally be able to relax. Instead, I seem to be a bit paranoid. For example: I went to a local Mexican place in Safford to buy Simon a breakfast burrito. There were the Visa, MasterCard, and Discover logos on the side of the building, but when I tried to pay for the food, the employee said they were taking only cash. I looked at her, looked at the beat-up tablet just inside the drive-thru window, then back at her, and thought she was making it up just so she couldn’t sell me food. She didn’t want to see me food because I was white; not Mexican. I drove off, no money paid, no food gained.

I drove about a block before I realized the thoughts were ridiculous.

Wow. That working environment really damaged me. My trust is damaged. As much as I want to teach again, I’m afraid of what kind of work environment I’ll walk in to. I’m afraid of going through all that again.

It’s in moments like this where you make the decision between victim or survivor. I choose survivor. I feel guilty for how many times I’ve come home venting to my husband about what I went through. He’s assured me every time that he doesn’t mind; he’s there for me. I want to talk about better things, our future together, and whatever random nonsense puts us through fits of laughter. I want to be a wife; not a nut job. In addition, I can’t let all these bad experiences poison my expectations of other schools. They are not the school I’ve been laid off from. Ultimately, this PTSD will pass. I’m aware of what I’m going through and that makes it easier to heal. I know how to get myself through it.

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I’ll be working on getting my fat ass back into shape. Three back injuries and busting a knee from taking a spill on a motorcycle, along with a wonky thyroid, it’s been frustrating, heartbreaking, and discouraging watching my waistline do nothing but expand. Compound a lot of stress on top of that and anyone will have a belly that jiggles.

Well, I’ve been an athlete most of my life. I’ll be battling sugar cravings that I know only make me feel worse, instead of better. I’ll be golfing frequently. The stance is working the back muscles I’ve hurt really bad, so I’m hoping the low-impact sport will help strengthen those key muscles. I’ll be writing a lot as well. I have a book to finish ghost writing for my client that I need to complete before the next school year. I also want to compile a bunch of notes for a new book idea and start tinkering with expanding on my Aigis trilogy.

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About Angela Macala-Guajardo

Author, teacher, soon-to-be full time writer for two companies. Also a lover life in the Arizona desert, puppy butt wiggles, and kitties purring away on my shoulder.
This entry was posted in helping students, high school, learning, life's journey, love of teaching, students, teaching, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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