It’s been almost 2 weeks since I packed up my classrooms and locked the doors.
And since that time, I haven’t had a chance to come up for air. But in a good way. I’ve been on the move. And yes, this is how I am justifying my absence from the blog. Besides, I needed to give myself the time and distance to think things through. (Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.)
After saying my goodbyes at school (giving hugs and suppressing tears), my husband and I rushed to the airport. We were heading out east to help our oldest move.
(Turns out we probably didn’t need to rush, as our flight was delayed by 2 1/2 hours. This of course, caused us to miss our connecting flight in Detroit, which in turn, forced us to reroute from our original destination of Boston to Providence in order to avoid spending the night in Detroit.)
We finally arrived in Providence at midnight.
Unfortunately, our luggage, did not.
At any rate, we spent Saturday moving Kristin from her apartment in Providence to her new digs in Boston where she will be much closer to her work.
Just in case you were feeling sorry for me, it wasn’t all work and no play. We spent Sunday morning hiking around Walden Pond. (I had reread Walden with my 7th graders this past year, so I was pretty excited to see Thoreau’s source of inspiration!)
Kristin had a date that afternoon, so the hubby and I ventured down to the Cape (not exactly a beach day, but enjoyable nonetheless).
On Monday, we traveled to see Logan, our middle child, who is spending his summer working at the University of Vermont. While he was at work, we rented bikes and explored the Burlington area.
At any rate, here I am, finally wrapping my head around the school year.
Let me begin by saying (or writing, as the case may be) this year goes down as one of my most challenging. Rarely have I ever been so unsure of myself. Many nights I went to bed with that sick–to–my–stomach, fluttering–in–my–chest feeling. And while I know it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the year, those feelings didn’t diminish much over the course of the year.
And I think I know why.
I didn’t practice what I preached.
I wish I would have listened to myself as I provided words of wisdom to my students, because everything I tried to help them understand, I needed to be practicing myself.
So here is what I need to take to heart as I move forward.
- Don’t be afraid to fail or take risks. I am a perfectionist (as were many of my students), and few things suck the fun out of life as much as this. What I tried to help my perfectionist students understand was that failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Ideally, it leads to learning. It’s okay to not quite get it the first time. It’s okay to tweak things over the course of the year. As much as I wanted to be perfect from day 1, I needed to let go of that. But I didn’t.
- Reach out to others. I am forever grateful to have worked with some phenomenal educators this past year. Find people who you trust to give you honest feedback. I knew exactly who to go to when I needed help clarifying matters. This was the person who didn’t spoon feed me answers, but instead responded to my questions with questions. This was the person who made me think. (Forever grateful, TR.) Find people who have your back, who will listen to you without judgement, who make you laugh. Because some days, this is what will pull you through. (Lots of love to you SR, JK, and JS!)
- I don’t need to know everything. As much as I want to, I can’t. Impossible. I was honest about what I didn’t know, but I felt guilty for not always having the answers. I get it though. I don’t need to be an expert in everything. It’s about being curious. It’s about knowing how to find the answers. And it’s about students understanding it is okay to not know it all (crucial for the high ability students I work with). That’s what I should be modeling.
- Be true to yourself and your beliefs. I feel a strong need to please others—to not make waves. (Not necessarily a good thing, btw.) On an almost daily basis, I reminded my students to always write for themselves—not me. I told them to write to share themselves with the world, to explore their creativity, to learn. They would have many teachers in their lifetime, and each would have a different view of their writing. Enough said.
- Don’t lose perspective. Remember the bigger picture. I told my students that education is about the learning, not the grade. And how does that translate for me? For me, it means as long as I am preparing my students to be successful in life, I am doing the right thing. If my students are sailing through school without being challenged, I am not doing my job. So why did I ever think it should be different for me? I too, grow when challenged, when I am made to feel uncomfortable, when I am pushed outside of my comfort zone.
As I go forward, these are the lessons I need to remember.