Can you believe it?! Another school year has come and gone (for those of you in this business, you would have understood if I said another year has come and gone, but we gotta spell it out for the non-schoolies...).
At the beginning of each year, I am excited about what will come and I have forgotten how hard those first 6-8 weeks can be to get to know kids, to find out what their needs will be, to set up routines, to create a safe, learning environment and to scale back my expectations (based on what my last class could do at the end). I forget that I will be frustrated and working overly hard to get things rolling the way I want and need them to go. I am simply thrilled at the prospect of a new group of kids and then the work begins.
About mid way through the year, I'm feeling exhausted but some measure of success in what the kids can do and what I've done to help get them there. I feel like the kids will get to where I need them to go and every year I feel like this class is better than the last (with the exception of a few super star classes I've had in the past - ICS grade 1 you know who you are!!). I have lost the beginning of the year excitement and am just getting bogged down in the work and the paperwork that piles up with teaching. It's at this point in the year when summer seems farthest away and like we might never get there for all the weeks of teaching without a break.
Close to the spring, I'm beyond exhausted and worried about the few kids who aren't pulling up their socks and getting to where I need to go and I'm putting in extra hours at home researching or designing ways to help meet them where they are at and reach their potential. I'm now aching for a break and we get a week in the spring which is welcome but seemingly not enough. Also, at this point in the year, summer seems all too close and there is just too much to do still. Too much content left to teach, too many reports left to write, too many kids to help, too many little ceremonies and other things that come out of nowhere to try and fit in the already over-busy schedule.
After spring break comes and goes, it dawns on me that there is just no time left. We are now in full emergency teaching mode, we have to get all the kids ready for the next grade academically and behaviourly. It becomes a high pressure cooker full of expectations, worries, love and care. By now, I am far too attached to each of the little munchkins that walk into my classroom everyday and I'm even attached to their parents.
As the end of the year approaches, I panic! I know you would think that this would be the slow release of the kids but it's not. I panic to make sure that I've done enough to prepare them, in fact, to over prepare them in case there is some regression of language and understanding over the summer break. I'm stressed and worried about who will teach them the next year (we have FABULOUS teachers at every grade level here and I love the second grade team). I worry that they won't understand the quirks of this boy or the seemingly annoying habits of that girl. I worry that they won't be patient enough with my babies or that they won't love them as much or as fiercely as I do (again, let me tell you how GREAT our second grade team is and how hard they work... I know this in my head but my heart just can't absorb it for some reason, no matter the school or the teachers in the next grade). And so I try to squeeze learning and loving into every last second of the day. My goal isn't just to academically and behaviourly prepare them anymore... it's to send them off into the summer so full of knowledge and LOVE that they are eager to come back in the fall.
And then in the blink of an eye, the year is OVER. One minute the kids are chattering in your ear, annoying you with silly questions and goofy answers, making you double over in laughter with their antics and squeezing the life out of you in a bear hug and the next... the classroom is empty and the only sound is you clacking away on your keyboard trying to complete your paperwork or you putting things in boxes or you taking down the wall decorations etc. You go from ear-splitting noise to relative silence in a heartbeat and it feels wonderful and horrible at the same time. Wonderful that you are getting the break you desperately need to recharge and do it all over again in the fall and horrible because the little people you've poured your life into for the past 9 months are just gone.
So there... teachers out there... I hope I haven't misrepresented what we do in any way... this is how I see it and this is the first time I'm able to sit and reflect on it this way. And for those of you who don't teach or know a teacher well, I hope this gives you a little insight to what we do and how it feels for us when school's out for summer!!
Appreciate the educators in your life!