I sort of failed at keeping my blog in September, huh? So many times I sat to write about the schoolyear and wasn't able to find the words. I think, also, it keeps me from writing about a lot of the day to day moments, because I want to explain, in detail, about September and why I was so absent. Hopefully, this entry will make me feel a bit more settled. Once I feel like I've let it out, that I've let you all know, I can get back to the "small moments" blogging that I so deeply enjoy.
September tends to be a rather difficult time for finding a good balance between my work and home life. With the beginning of the school year comes the emotional adjustment of missing my former students and beginning to learn about new ones. It's forging new relationships with families (through Open House and Back to School Night and Family Conferences that we start during the second week of school), rebuilding Team relationships with my colleagues, and reconciling some of the "me" time that I had during the summer time with the sheer lack of it that I am able to create as the school year begins.
It's a time of great disequilibrium.
And well... this year I have that class.
The class that comes along every few years and challenges every teaching skill that I've developed. Several of my students came in (to first grade) already with a reputation. Everyone in the knows about them. At age six. It is really, really not okay to have such a reputation at age six.
This is the class that I will be despondent to let go of in June, even though I was despondent about being able to meet their needs during the first week of school. You see, in theory, this class should have two teachers, or a teacher and an Instructional Assistant, to best provide for the emotional and the academic needs of each of my twenty-four students. In reality, they get me.
A lot of this is due to budget cuts, some of it is due to other several other educational and classroom decisions that my administration was forced to make at the end of last school year. One of the things I've discovered is that we can be pretty good at putting together groups of children that will make up a well-balanced class (academically, behaviorally, and socially), but no matter how much we think about them, there are things that we are just not going to foresee. So far, many of them have happened in my classroom this year.
This is one of those years that did have me questioning the decision to keep teaching after this year. This is one of those years that had me wondering if I was actually capable of finding my confidence as a teacher again. I didn't get a full night's sleep until the third week of school; I didn't eat lunch until just last week. This has been a test of both will and determination that I haven't faced since my fifth year of teaching.
Somehow, though, I've been able to find my feet.
It's not the best situation for anyone, but I'm determined to make it work. I have twenty-four children, each of whom is deeply amazing in their own right. I have the energy of someone younger (thank goodness), the belief in children as the shining example of why the world is a wonderful place, and the support of so many friends and family members that believe in me, even when I'm not quite there myself. (thank you all ♥). I've also had the support of the administration, as well as several colleagues who are tireless cheerleaders for me. I really cannot thank them enough.
I feel so lucky to have had such a varied and rich teaching career so far. I've worked with some of the most talented educators on the planet, both in my tenure here as well as my time in Boston. I have a toolbox that is full to bursting of ways to support children in many different areas. I appreciate that, for some unknown reason, my mind is constantly inventing new ideas and new strategies to support children when something doesn't quite go right.
It's been a long, uphill, twenty-five days of school so far. We've taken several giant steps forward, and many other steps back. But, dammit, we're getting there. We're making it. We are slowly building a class of deeply caring and aware young people. We will continue to do so, little by little by little, until no one has a reputation in this school that isn't positive.
We're going to be that class, sure. But we're going to be that class that succeeds in the face of multiple adversities and still comes out shining brightly.
Because that's what we do in school. That's what we do in our class. We shine.