I started contemplating going back to elementary last school year. I had just finished my fourth year of teaching sixth grade science, and I was getting "the itch" to try something new. I had been teaching my same curriculum for three years (the first year I actually taught general science instead of just earth science) and I was ready for a new challenge. I had previously always thought that I would stay in my former position for at least five years before tackling a new job somewhere else, so I decided that during my fifth year of teaching I would start looking at elementary openings.
I also decided to apply at different school districts around my area. This decision was even harder for me, since I grew up in the district I taught in. I had graduated from that district and had even received that District's Teacher of the Year. But, I knew that other districts offered new professional development opportunities and other ways that would challenge me as an educator and help me grow, so I kept my options open.
I forgot how tedious applying for jobs can be! I filled out numerous online applications, and when I received my first interview call (for a first grade opening in a different district) I was beyond nervous. I felt completely unprepared and unqualified, even though I had five years of teaching experience! However, once I walked into the interview and was shocked at how different interviewing felt than the first time I interviewed at schools five years ago! Having actual experience and stories made me feel a lot more comfortable once the interview got started, and even though I felt confident I didn't get "the right feeling" from that school that I was looking for.
Then, after a third week of no phone calls, I received four interview calls in a row. Two interviews were for two different school districts, and the other two were from two elementary buildings in my current school district. All of the interviews were the same week, right after one another. Gulp. I ended up going on all but one of the interviews (because I ended up accepting a position) and every single one of them went swimmingly.
I can remember sitting on my bathroom floor one day when my husband came home from work crying because I didn't know what to do. I had a pretty good feeling that one of the schools in another district would offer me a position (which is the position I ended up taking), but at that moment I felt so many different emotions. I felt guilty for leaving my current school and students. I felt like I was abandoning the school and district that gave me so much, from my elementary, middle, and high school education to my first teaching position. I felt terrified to leave everything I knew and was comfortable doing. I felt overwhelmed with the amount of new information I would have to learn in order to be an effective elementary teacher again. I felt scared that I wouldn't "have what it takes" to teach elementary anymore since I had been out of the game for five years. I cried and cried and begged my husband to tell me what to do. He just looked at me and said, "I can't tell you what to do, but you know what to do-you're just scared to do it."
He was right. I did know what I wanted, and the next day I accepted my position as a fifth grade teacher. It was the scariest and best decision I ever made, and when I told my students why I was leaving I explained to them that teaching elementary school was always my dream, and even when you are scared to take a risk or a chance, it's important to always follow your gut. Sometimes we have to take huge risks to grow, and I know I am going to grow so much as an educator in my new position and district.