I got an email on Wednesday from Uber Vanilla. It was one sentence, and it read: “Please come see me in my office at 12:20 to talk about next year.”
My blood pressure reached an unhealthy level, and I struggled to stay focused during my morning class.
Other teachers had been getting their teaching assignments, and most had been happy about them. Naturally, to me this meant that I was going to get stuck with something unpleasant. And, given how my luck has played out this year, I was honestly half-expecting to be let go, even though they’d promised everyone that there would be zero lay-offs.
I trudged to her office and stood in the doorway. I have also avoided most contact with Uber Vanilla, lest she accuse me of scaring her further.
“Come in, come in!” she chirped. Ever since our principal has announced that he is leaving, she’s been in a much better mood. Even her wardrobe has lightened up, trading out her traditional black pencil skirt for a Hillary-esque beige cardigan. She is plotting a coup, I’m almost sure of it. She’s going full Cersei on all of us.
I sat down and looked at her expectantly.
“Okay, so I’m just going to tell you outright. No frilly stuff or dancing around things,” she said.
An email would have been just fine, then, I thought.
“So, what we have decided for you for next year is…” she paused for dramatic effect, and I had to consciously control my eyes from rolling straight out of my head.
Let me guess; sixth grade math. And yeah, I don’t even have a math endorsement, but at the rate this year is going, it’ll be .5 math and .5 gardener.
“Seventh and eighth grade language arts,” I heard her say.
Wait. I wrenched my eyes from the cheap faux-wood table in front of me.
“What?” I said, blinking rapidly. “I got eighth grade, too?”
The reason this was so surprising was that I had inquired about the possibility of looping up with this year’s seventh graders, because I adore them and I see so much potential in them that I selfishly want to guide them through the awesome books that 8th grade gets to read. I mean, they have a civil rights and mental health unit. For a brown person with anxiety, this is teaching gold.
My request to loop up had been met with, “we just have to see where people fit best,” which is the educational equivalent to the, “we’ll see,” your parents gave you when you were nine and asked for a pony.
And where I had fit before was 7th grade language arts. I’ve taught it for four years now, and I just figured I’d stay there. Getting eighth grade was a dream come true. I would be looping up with some of my favorite students ever, and teaching a new curriculum that I had been envying for years. I felt, for the first time, incredibly happy with my position at this school.
I left her office, feeling like the future had gotten a smidge brighter. Yes, I was still at this school. Yes, there could potentially be a giant troll come in to be our principal. Or worse, it could be Uber Vanilla.
But, I would be with a lot of my absolute gems from this year. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. I have had the privilege of teaching students who help me feel that I do actually know what the hell I’m doing. They are curious and genuinely care about the people around them. This year, 90% of my student leadership group has been made up of our seventh graders. They wear “Love Wins,” and “Resist,” and Star Wars shirts on the regular. They are awesome.
They want to learn how to change the world. And I can’t wait to help them do exactly that next year.