teaching, learning and living around the world
The more I teach, the more I love my job. I truly enjoy working hard at it. And as I look back on the schools I’ve worked at, I’m amazed at how different they are. After my first two years teaching in Kinshasa, I thought a lot about my desire to grow horizontally rather than vertically. I didn’t want to move up and out of the classroom, I wanted new classroom experiences. When I consider the wide range of schools and communities I’ve worked with, I begin to realize how much each place has broken me down and built me back up again. One of my kids last year wrote a note to all the teachers, apologizing for his wild outburst in class, and promising to be the newest, best version of Sulaiman ever known.
As I kick off my sixth year of teaching, I definitely feel like Ms. Rich 6.0. Kinshasa broke down any preconceived notions I had about structure and standards, and teaching at that school felt like riding on a phoenix who was rising from the ashes. Goma broke down my pride and fueled my humility as I struggled to collaborate through the stumbling blocks of language and cross cultural communication. Brooklyn- ahhh Brooklyn. It might still be too soon to say, but I’m pretty sure Brooklyn took my overall understanding of my profession to a whole new level. I felt both challenged and nurtured, respected and also prodded to improve every aspect of my teaching. And now here I am, entering year six in Brussels, Belgium.
Already there are huge contrasts. From a strict, heavily documented and studied discipline system with silent roundabout class transitions to a totally laissez-faire atmosphere where the only hallway rule is don’t run. Each day I put forth my best 6.0 self, and I’m eager to see how that will be dismantled and reassembled in a new way.
Kinshasa to Virginia
Virginia to Goma
Goma to Virginia
Virginia to New York
New York to Virginia
Virginia to Brussels
And now that I’m settling in, hoping to be grounded here for a few years, I can say with less exhaustion that I do enjoy the process of reinventing myself both professionally and personally. And I feel privileged to be refueled by soul food from so many corners of the world. Every summer I get family, Alexandria and that feeling of home- definitely good for my soul. Whenever one of Anga’s family members arrives here from Congo I get plenty of sombe, beans and rice for my soul. And now Belgium boasts enough beer, waffles and fries to give my soul a heart attack.
Settling in nicely. Guest room is open.
Very excited for this round of reassembly.