Here we are, many of us ready to wrap up the school year.
I don’t know about you, but there’s this…thing that happens to me at the beginning of every year, and more so since the onset of COVID. Lately, I stand, feet firmly planted in August, looking over the wide expanse of the school year and wondering how they’ll carry me through to June. Lately, I examine my nearly-empty tank of energy and resilience, hoping for backup. Lately, I worry I don’t have what it takes to get through the school year with my enthusiasm and idealism intact.
This year, I gathered, it couldn’t be done.
This year, I thought, certainly I couldn’t do it.
This year might be the year I join my colleagues who have moved on to early retirement, to other careers, to greener pastures.
Yet, here I am.
Miraculously, I stare down the last few weeks of school wishing I had more. More time with my students. More sessions to finish up all those projects. More chances to interact with my writers, to experiment with strategies to see what sticks.
Don’t get me wrong: the weeks do feel long, and my kids seem especially squirrely, and everyone’s tempers are exceedingly short. Still, I find myself with renewed energy and optimism.
You see, everywhere around me, I hear talk of “learning loss.” Some of my colleagues feel less and less permission to make classrooms and instruction “their own.” Beneath that is the persistent march towards Consistency and Achievement (all in the name of Optics). I don’t think I’m alone in this; teacher friends from across the area and across the country have shared similar frustrations.
So here’s the twist. I’ve been talking with my colleagues lately about writing.
And here’s what I’ve learned – a thing that brings me joy.
Despite all the surrounding noise, my colleagues still have the desire and drive to change the game. My colleagues still get excited about the chance to try out new strategies for writing workshop, to see what a writing circle might feel like, or to engage in book and article studies.
Despite everything, my colleagues still have the belief that things can be better.
That THEY can make things better.
Can we re-instill joy and love for writing?
Might we revel in the discovery that children, knowing others read their work, write with greater craft and skill?
Could we create an exciting community of children and grown-ups who feel delight in finding means of self-expression?
I can’t wait to see what happens when we start tapping into the energy and idealism that’s been laying dormant.
We can re-align our moral compass with student instruction. We can commit ourselves to being sincerely, wholeheartedly, a community of learners.
This summer, I’ll do my best to prop up my feet, take walks in the woods, sleep without an alarm, and bake to my heart’s content. I hope you’ll also have the chance to do the same.
I’ll also be gearing up for what, I’m hoping, will be a year of excitement and discovery. I also hope that somewhere, you, too can find a kernel of hope, joy, or idealism to carry with you into the summer.
So…how about you? What’s one thing that has your educator mind running? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate