So the school year has started, and we are in our first full week since going back.  I’m thrilled to be at the same school, although the experience is proving to be wildly different.  The few people I have mentioned this to have apologized to me, as if my saying it is different means that it is worse.

I was so fortunate in my first year to be paired with a student who was just such a sweet and easy child, and to be in the classroom with a teacher who became a friend.  I got to eat with the teachers and didn’t have to do “lunch duty,” so I rubbed elbows with an entirely different crowd.  I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the school.

This year I am not paired with any one teacher, but rather switch around over the course of the day, eat lunch early with a handful of other paraprofessionals, have a period of lunch duty, and no place to really call “home.”  I am with an entirely different group of kids in an entirely different section of the school, and it is an adjustment. 

But it is not a bad thing.

In fact, I think one thing that I seem to be realizing about myself is the fact that…and wow, I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but…I sort of enjoy change.  I like the fact that I’m all over the place.  I like the challenge of learning different kids in each room, and figuring out how to work with each of the different teachers.  I feel like it’s all experience and all of it will lead me towards figuring out just what exactly it is that I think I want to do in education.

The student that I am predominantly with this year is much more of a challenge than last year’s student.  And yet I feel the start of fondness for Student 2014…sit with anyone long enough and their goodness will reveal itself to you.  And with kids, it doesn’t take that long, their goodness is so close to the surface.  But so are their wounds, and those stab at my heart too.

While I am paired mainly with one student, there are a handful of others that I spend a fair amount of time with during the course of the day, and each of them has a story, and some goodness, and some heartbreak, and wedge themselves into crevices that I did not know existed in my heart, until I feel like I have my family, and my children who were born to me, and then all these other peoples’ children who weave into my life for a brief time but leave indelible marks on my heart and become, in a way, mine as well.

Today…ah, today.  There is a child who I spend a minimal amount of time with.  This precious, quiet mouse of a child who will not raise a hand or speak up in class but only turns their pale face in my direction and stares at me until I notice. 

I have spent approximately 2 hours, in total, in the presence of this child – not even engaged one on one.  But this child will leave tiny mouse prints on my heart, for sure.

Today, Mouse was getting ready to return to their classroom and came and stood silently before me.  Before I could ask, M. stepped in close, angled their head, and put their arms around me.  I was stunned at the unexpectedness of it, and also deeply moved by that simple act of trust and affection.

It is these moments that let me know that I am on the right path, and that I am, for right now, where I was meant to be.  Learning.  Becoming.  Loving.  And being changed by it all.