Flight of Fancy Brings Teacher Back to ‘Wild Things’ in Class

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March 15, 2022

This is the seventh in a series of guest blogs by the 2021-22 Michigan Regional Teachers of the Year. Bethany Vonck is an English language arts teacher at Washtenaw International Middle Academy in the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium.
In the famous book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, Max does not want to eat his dinner nor live in his own home so, looking for something more exciting, he moves on to become King of the Wild Things. I’m with Max on so many levels. I don’t always enjoy the reality of my daily mid-COVID life.
Reality: I found a way to teach faceless boxes during Zoom. I even found a way to create some virtual relationships.
Reality: I found a way to make hybrid learning possible. Even if it sometimes felt like a scene from “Apollo 13” as I cobbled together lessons with an odd array of materials.
Reality: I marched back into my classroom this fall with a smile on my masked face ready to create a “new normal.”
Reality: It has been hard; I am tired; my efforts have not always appreciated.
What if I decided to run away? I have several degrees and countless hours of professional development. I am a problem solver, a creative thinker and detail oriented. I am certainly capable of finding work where I don’t have to work evenings, summers and weekends for free. There are many other opportunities that pay a living wage. Yes! I could be King (or Queen) of the Wild Things!
As I ponder and dream, I wonder if anyone in my new job will compare me to Dumbeldore or tell me that I look like a goddess in my blue silk wrap. I wonder if all my new colleagues will look at me with mouths agape as I read the beginning of a new book, anxiously waiting to hear more. I wonder if I will receive precious gifts like a warm hug, a handful of dandelions or an origami crane. Will my new co-workers send me notes telling me how much they love me, and they hope that one day I might go on a wonderful trip to the Bahamas or Universal Studios? Or will I just be another one of the Wild Things?
When I return to my senses, I see that my students are still waiting for me, eager to learn no matter what is happening outside our classroom. There is only one response I can think of and it is, “Let the wild rumpus start!” I’m tired. I make a difference. I am a proud Michigan educator.