Say the words “in” and “service” to a teacher and one typically gets an eye roll and a guttural grunt. I’ve always been disturbed by in-service days. Think about it. You take your car in to get service when it needs maintenance. A church is in service when the people need to maintain their religious connection because of their imperfections. And we all watched Downton Abbey and are now aware that a person in service was available for use as a servant at any time of day. Inservice linguistically has a negative connotation. For the average public school teacher, inservice days were either really terrible PD where an “education expert” (a.k.a a person who has never been in the classroom) spouted nonsense to us while we read books on our kindles or played on our phones. OR they were days wasted with district/state mandated busy work when all we really wanted to do was work in our classrooms and plan for the year with our cohorts. That being said, the inservice days were mini reunions after long breaks. We were all so excited to see one another because we knew the next few hours were going to be torture and we would rather suffer with our friends.
Although today was labeled an inservice day, I believe the correct nomenclature should be the day of being serviced in.
I walked into UAS this morning slightly nervous about meeting the whole staff only to be grabbed by the first stranger and kissed on the cheek. “We are so happy you are here” echoed from person to person. Some had already heard about me and the other newbies from staff who had met us already. Some recognized us from our pictures and information in the newsletter sent out by our director at the end of the previous school year. Regardless, I bounced from cheek kiss to cheek kiss, from one smiling face to the next, from one enthusiastic educator to the next until I was beaming.
I put my stuff down in my room and headed towards the cafeteria. Every semester, we open and close with a breakfast and lunch provided by the school. It is a nice way for the faculty and staff to enjoy each other without students. I sat next to the art teacher, Tendai, who is from Zimbabwe. She may be the COOLEST person I have ever met! I had met her husband Christopher the previous day. Also super cool! I also sat with my new favorite person, Tavis (science teacher/first face I ever saw representing UAS!) who apparently plans wine-tasting trips around Uruguay. Um, yes please! I met the music teacher, the theatre teacher, the elementary teachers, the secondary teachers, the PE teacher, some parents and everyone in between. EVERY SINGLE PERSON was genuinely excited to hear about me and to share their own stories regarding the holidays and their teaching time at UAS. The melding of Spanish and English wrapped around me as friends greeted each other like it had been years instead of weeks. I was caught up in the jovial air of new beginnings mixed with old routines. And my heart warmed and broke all at the same time.
You see, leaving my old school was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. My friends I had made in Nashville were going to come and see me. Some already had plane tickets booked. But most of the people I had worked with may never physically see me again, nor I them. Part of me didn’t want to feel so welcome (even though I knew this was impossible in Uruguay). Part of me was still holding on to the men and women who had been a part of my professional and personal life for seven years. Which is why today was a service in for me. These past few weeks have been great, but also overwhelming. There is a lot of new. And my fall-back familiarity was teaching. I know how to teach. I’m good at it. Teaching in the new country was certainly going to be an adjustment but teaching is teaching. I think that’s why the school part didn’t phase me as much as the moving part. That being said, the welcome I received was very much needed to get my mojo back. My people were thousands of miles away sitting in inservice without me. I needed to know that that was okay. My confidence, and even my heart, needed a little maintenance.
A service – (noun) – The action of helping or doing work for someone; to assist
To Service – (Verb) – To perform a repair; to perform a service for someone
The faculty and staff of UAS assisted in repairing my apprehensions and sorrow I felt leaving HHS and the wonderful people who had and still do loved and supported me. The faculty and staff of UAS performed a service when they graciously opened their arms and let me in to their fold. I feel so privileged to be a part of this new education community. Muchas gracias, mi familia nueva. Estoy muy emocionado de trabajar con todos ustedes. (Also, I will probably be coming to all of you for Spanish lessons because I have no idea if this is right!) Oh, and I won’t even tell my people back home about our actual inservice agenda today. Let’s just say my classroom is all put together and my plans are all ready to go. :p