Mom picked me up from the airport that summer. I had just graduated high school but wasn’t quite ready to claim independence yet (cue: “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”). I laid my head against the window as tears rolled down my face. I had only been in Oklahoma for a week, but somehow, coming back to my small town felt like a prison sentence.
I have always been one to attach myself to places and experiences. It’s a feeling of being a part of something greater. The last week has been extremely difficult. People keep congratulating me on my new job but all I can think about is the end of my internship. Buddhist teachings would say to detach, but how are we to learn the lessons of an experience if we are unable to fully submerge ourselves into it, mind, body, and soul.
In lieu of my goodbye lunch this afternoon, here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last ten months.
Trust God. I have never in my life believed so much in the statement “everything happens for a reason,” until this September. As of August, I was all set to move home and finish up my masters degree with a year-long internship at a local school district. Two weeks before I was to start, the school psychologist with whom I was to be working informed me that he had put in his resignation but that he had found me a different internship at a school district an hour away. I have never been more grateful for something going wrong. The love I have for the district I ended up at is insurmountable and I can’t imagine any other experience having been as great, as encouraging, and as helpful as the one I had. Let. Life. Be.
Feedback and criticism are not the same thing. I’ve talked on the blog about my anxieties before and believe me when I say I’m not the best at receiving feedback. Throughout the year I’ve learned that every mistake truly is a learning opportunity. Through reading scribbled margin notes and debriefing after meetings, I believe that there are genuine people in this world who want nothing more than to bring out the best in you.
Working with students is the most gratifying and satisfying experience in the world. Monday morning I sat on an old metal chair in the gymnasium as student after student walked up the stage stairs to perform. Tears welled up in my eyes (and okay, rolled down my face a bit) as I watched a girl, too anxious to make it through a math lesson, stand up in front of her whole school and sing more beautifully than most of us could ever dream of singing. It is the moment when your third grader walks in the office with smiley faces the whole way down his or her behavior plan. It is the day when your gifted student tells you the definition of the word mimic: “It means, what is the definition of the word mimic.” It is the smiles and the hugs and the “hey, I worked with her once!” that make all the difference in the world.
There are going to be teachers who sigh and rant about “the worst class they have ever had,” and then there will be teachers who rise to the occasion and say, “what can I do to help my students?” Some will use a clip chart, others will live by 1-2-3-magic, and some will even exclaim that they don’t believe in behavior plans. Little Johnny might be an only child, from a single mother, living in the trailer park – and you know what, the best teachers in the world are the ones who can look past those factors to ask “how can I help this student learn best?” The best teachers are those who aren’t coaching the team, but standing there on the field ready to catch whatever fly balls come off the bat.
I did not choose this internship, but the internship certainly chose me. For the past ten months I have been so truly blessed to learn from some of the most inspiring people I will ever meet. Most importantly, my supervisor who changed my life the second he stepped into it and will forever serve as one of my greatest role models! Now on the the next one… as a School Psychologist!
Peace, love, and good coffee ❤