New Year's Eve has come to represent new beginnings. It's a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future. As a teacher, I used to mark the start of a new year by the academic calendar rather than New Year's Eve. This made sense as I spend time preparing a classroom and anxiously waiting the moment when I would meet my new students and their families.
To an extent, I still mark the start of a new year by the academic calendar. September seems to be another time of new beginnings as school starts, a new semester of grad school begins, and volunteer projects jump into action. And yet, seven years ago I also began to mark New Year's Eve as a time of new beginnings. Seven years ago, on New Year's Eve, I moved to Chicago for a new teaching job. This was a significant point in my journey. I was moving past the comfort of living within close proximity to my friends and the safety of working with a mentor teacher in the same school to a large city that I had only ever spent brief moments in without knowing where I would live or having the safety of having my closest friends nearby.
I can still vividly remember arriving at a college friends's apartment in the dark and snow and craziness that tends to reign on New Year's Eve. More scared than excited, I brushed it off and sent my parents on their way. I remember thinking, "what have I done", as friends counted down to the New Year. I spent the week in a haze and then all of sudden Monday was upon me and it was time to venture to a new school, a new set of colleagues, and a new set of children and families.
I've learned a lot since that crazy move seven years ago. I have learned how to navigate life in the city, how to grocery shop when you rely on the train to get around, and I learned how to teach. In the past seven years, I have learned the type of teacher that I want to be, what beliefs I hold about education and young children and their families, and how to fight for what I believe to be the best for my students.
And now, on the eve of another new year, I reflect on all I still need to know, on the things that I still need to wrestle with and make sense of. Seven years after nervously leaving the small city where I went to college, I am on the verge of graduating from grad school. I feel poised and well equipped to move onto the next stage of my journey. If only I could figure out what that next stage will be.
I am so fortunate to be at an internship that allows me to try new things and allows me the opportunity to get to know faculty and staff at my grad school more deeply. I am blessed that the several part time jobs I hold are at such places as a large not-for-profit that works in support of young children and at a children's museum. I know that these opportunities are amazing and are preparing me for the future and I am so lucky that these opportunities have also made my presence known to many influential people in the field of early childhood education.
And so now it is up to me. It is up to me to reflect on my journey and to open myself up to the future. Maybe I'll end up back in the classroom. Maybe I'll end up overseas. Maybe I'll end up as a teacher coach. The possibilities do seem endless. And maybe that's okay. Maybe it now becomes my job to filter these possibilities and allow myself to pick a direction. Because it seems that whichever direction I pick will be a good choice and will help me continue to work in defense of play, learning, children, and teachers.
Happy New Year!