What a Year Off from Teaching taught me

Since I was four years old, all I ever wanted in my life was to be a classroom teacher. After a year off from teaching, I’ve got a new opportunity to make that happen.

In high school I started to really struggle with picking a major, because an education degree was all I had ever wanted to pursue, but I was suddenly feeling called to teach music. I ended up going to school for a music education degree. It was terrifying to leave my life-long dream behind.

Alyssa's computer and library classroom, from before taking a year off from teaching.

Even though I “only” had my music education degree, it didn’t limit me. I worked as a classroom teacher’s aide, a music teacher, a school librarian/basically STEAM teacher, and a computer teacher. I loved it, but there was always a part of me that had a tinge of regret for not choosing my life-long dream.

Then things changed even more.

A little over a year ago, I announced that I was leaving my teaching job.

I was scared. I was sure that I was going to teach my whole life, but I also had peace that this was where God was leading me. It was so strange to not be in the classroom, but it was good.

In my time away from teaching, I learned how to better organize my time. I learned how prioritizing things was even more important and effective than scheduling things, but that I do love being able to create my own schedule. It was during this transition that Cody and I learned the importance of getting things done in six days so we could truly rest on the seventh day. That’s something I don’t think we would have realized had I stayed working at school.

I realized (QUICKLY) that I missed having kiddos in my life. Subbing became a really special time for me, because I loved spending time with the students. Being in the classroom without all the stress was really fun, too!

A year off from teaching

Alyssa and boss/friend Amber at Summit 2018.

My boss/friend moved to Florida shortly after I started working for her full time. I learned that there is such a thing as too much alone time, even for an introvert like me. Since I had a lot of extra down time, I also quickly learned what some of my best hobbies were (including reading, writing, and listening to podcasts).

With everything that changed this past year, I’m learning to build community in places outside of work. We are very involved at our church, especially with Financial Peace University this year. Showing up can be draining for me, but it allows me to interact with people outside of the house. Had I still been working at school and needing to recharge from a full day of extroverting, I don’t think I could have even done it!

I’m finding a new baseline of energy for me, and honing in on how to recharge myself more effectively. Working a weekly Sabbath into our schedule has been a huge benefit. I’m focused on what things during the week help clear my mind and prepare me for another day. Some days, that means getting out of the house and walking at the mall. Other days, all I can do is relax on the couch and read or watch a show for an hour. I’m still working on recognizing what my body needs, but I’m getting more used to listening!

Plot Twist

By the end of winter, I was in a really good groove of working, pursuing hobbies, and keeping our house in order. Things were going really well, but I started to feeling a stirring in my soul once again.

I will go into more detail in a future post, but for now here is the short version. This next school year, I will be back in the classroom 3 days a week as a Pre-K classroom teacher. I’m back with the team I worked with before, who I love dearly, and in a classroom role. It is literally my childhood dream come true, and I can’t wait!

Classroom of students from Alyssa's year as a teacher's aide.

As I look back on my year off from teaching, I look forward to continuing the practices I am putting in place now. Our weekly Sabbath will be more important than ever, I’m sure. The balance between extrovert time (like at school) and introvert time will be a main focus. I know it will present a whole new host of challenges, but I’m ready to see what this new chapter looks like. And with the things I’ve been learning and focusing on this past year, I’m hopeful that the transition and experience will be very rewarding!