Legend has it ("Legend" being my dad) that I rode the monumental roller coaster Lightning Loops at Great Adventure Amusement Park at the tender age of 6. Having a six year old daughter myself, I can't imagine letting her ride a huge, loopy, upside down roller coaster. Apparently my parents had no such reservations. My dad tells the tale that I waited bravely on line with him and had no idea what was coming. From the ground, my mom reported that my two braids stuck straight up in the air as we went upside down. My only real memory of the experience is my dad saying, "Now we go backwards" as the ride slowed down and I thought we were finished.
Fast forward 34 years to this summer's family vacation to Busch Gardens Amusement Park in Virginia. My husband and two children (ages 8 and 6) met up with my sister, her husband and her son (age 10). We were also with another family that had 3 boys (ages 10, 7, and 5.) My nephew, Will, is fearless and wanted to ride every single roller coaster. My sister was willing to go on with him. My son wanted to do a lot of the rides and my daughter was too small for most of them. I had mixed feelings about it.
One part of me felt too afraid to do roller coasters. Didn't want to be petrified as the roller coaster steadily climbs a high mountain only to zoom right down it at the speed of light. Felt worried the harness wouldn't go down appropriately and I would fall out (unreasonable fear, but still there). I've had vertigo in the past (where the room just spins and spins) and I was concerned a roller coaster would bring that back. So a big part of me wanted to skip all roller coasters.
Another part of me wanted to face my fears. To do something frightening and make it to the other side stronger. To experience the rides with my family and be an example of having courage.
The very first ride we came to was called Finnegan's Flyers. It looked like two giant swings with seats attached. It would swing very high in either directions, opposite each other.
"Are you going to go on it?" my sister asked, already walking to the line. Nodding yes, I handed my backpack to my husband to hold and took my son with me. Alex, Will and my sister and I were all in the same side of the swing. It started up and before long we were swinging through the air so fast and so high. I kept my eyes closed tight and screamed the whole time. It was frightening and exhilarating at the same time! When the ride was over, I was relieved but also proud that I faced a fear and went on the ride.
As the vacation went on, my sister and nephew rode every single ride at Busch Gardens. My son rode more than I did. I was often the bag holder while others went on, or I would ride a smaller ride with my daughter. Still, I am glad the first ride I went on was Finnegan's Flyer and that I showed I can do things that scare me and come out the other side prouder and stronger.
The news came.
Last week, I wrote about waiting to find out which direction life would go. I didn't reveal what I was waiting on, but now that I know, I'll fill you in, dear reader. I interviewed for a K-2 Instructional Coach position in my school and on Friday, I found out I was not chosen for the position.
All the emotions.
I put my heart into applying for this position because I really felt it would be such a good fit for me. With 10 years of experience teaching kindergarten and 5 years in third grade, I felt like I really understood where students start their journey and where they leave grade 2. For those reasons and others, I thought I could make a difference in that role. And so I drafted and revised my letter of interest, prepared a new resume, assembled a digital portfolio of all my teaching experiences, and shopped for a new interview suit. I started a Pinterest board on being an Instructional Coach. I found the hashtags to follow on Twitter (#educoach in case you were wondering!) I would wake up in the middle of the night with new ideas on how I could build new relationships with my colleagues and make them feel really supported.
And then all at once, the opportunity was gone. I am returning to my 3rd grade classroom, starting my 18th year of teaching with children after all.
The first emotions were hurt and disappointment, like a boulder lodged in my stomach. Disbelief came next. A feeling of rejection and shame. Wondering what good was it to dream and think of ideas that will never come to fruition? A feeling of wanting to hide and never try for anything again because it hurts so much to put it all out there, lay your heart on the line, and not be chosen.
It's been a few days now and the most painful feelings are passing. I'm thinking about my new third graders. My head is getting back into the idea of working with kids and the privilege that is to be a child's teacher. My son is starting third grade this year so we are excited to kind of be in third grade together. I'm planning my read alouds. I'm thinking of new activities for a morning soft start. I'm reading up on ways to make content more inquiry based. I'm happy to be part of my grade level team with the most fun and supportive colleagues. Many blessings in what I still have.
I share this here in case you tried for something with all your heart and it was a negative for you, too. Or if you think you might try but are afraid to fail. It hurts- no lie- but I would say, still try. When I look at my professional career thus far, I am so proud of what I've done. I am so proud of being a learner and a reader and a writer and an encourager and a leader. There is more to learn and so you can find me with my third grade students this year. We will be learning together.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski