Archive for August, 2011

And a New Year Begins…

August 23, 2011

…complete with smiling faces and all. So where does that put me now?

Once again, I am re-energized by the eager young kids in front of me. I stood today out on the playground and again in the hallway as the students entered school today. The mood was positively electric and completely contagious. Maybe it was my breakfast coming back to haunt me, but I could swear my idealism was bubbling up inside me again.

I sat in a brief staff meeting and looked around at the faces of the teachers around me. People who had spent the past week working their tails off to get ready for Day One. People who (just like me) see every kid coming through that door as somebody’s child. People who share the same excitements and the same frustrations that I do. Colleagues.

Yes, the politics are still at play, standing expectantly over my shoulder. Yes, there are a thousand and one mini-crises that pop up each day. But today, thankfully, some of the resilience I’ve been seeking for so long has once again returned.

Tomorrow my first crop of students comes. I think they’ll be in my downstairs room, as opposed to the upstairs room I was just told I’m moving into. My desk isn’t in the room we’ll be in. There’s nothing on the walls. Just about all of my stuff is still in boxes.

But mark my words. Magic will happen.

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On Returning to my Classroom

August 17, 2011

Okay, so usually? Each August? When you ask me about the start of school? I start getting goosebumps. Literally. Just get me started talking about new school supplies, about seeing happy faces that first day of school, of going back to that wonderful structure of learning rules and routines, of thinking about the incredible sense of possibility that a new year holds, of – – well, you get the idea.

This year? Well, I’m trying. I really am.

What makes it so different?

I have to confess that last year was rough. Not the kids. They’re never the problem. They’re the reason I get out of bed each day, and I tell them so regularly. Is it the parents, then? Naw. I so enjoy having the shared experience of knowing that wonderful person that is their child that even the speedbumps are manageable. And my colleagues are an incredibly dedicated group of professionals with a heartfelt desire to do well by our kids.

It’s everything else. The politics, the issues, questions about direction and priorities and leadership and change. Not to mention major construction.

I’ve mentioned before that in teaching (as in much of life), what I count on most is my sense of idealism. By this past June, it was nearly beaten out of me. I could physically feel my resilience draining away as I entered the building and roamed the halls. I hated that. I hate writing it even now. And I hate that it’s true.

More than anything, I was hoping that this summer could be a true break, where I could breathe, focus, and find my center again. I passed on a multitude of opportunities: workshops, classes, social get-togethers. There were a few meetings and classes here and there, including a math class taught with my math idol from the junior high. (THAT was a rush.)

I was hoping that I could look August in the eye and feel the same sense of romance that I have in previous years. Honestly, that’s not the feeling that I have right now.

Right now, I’m hoping that starting to set up my classroom tomorrow is going to get my blood pumping. Maybe taking the time to sort through boxes, to see new supplies arrive for the year, to dwell on some of the possibilities ahead. Maybe that will do it for me.

If not, I know that next Tuesday there will be hundreds of smiling, tan, eager-to-learn faces coming to greet me and the rest of my colleagues. I know that no matter how heavy I feel my burden is, I can count on those amazing people to pull me through. And they will.

And I’m hoping by the end of the year, I’ll still be a teacher who teaches with her door open. Who still goes into the staff lounge for lunch. Who still blogs about the excitement and adventure of teaching.

Who still gets goosebumps thinking about new crayons.