This school year has been a gift. So many years I’ve thought, “That fun idea will have to wait until I have a group that can handle it better,” “I would go more in depth, but they’re so low I really need to focus on the basics,” or “If it weren’t for all of the external mandates...” This year we have none of that holding us back and we’ve been able to run with it—whatever the “it” is that grabs out attention. And it has been lovely.
I’m sure some people would say that all of those things holding me back were just excuses anyway. If I’d wanted to do it, I could have. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a classroom teacher it’s humility. If there are two things I’ve learned, the second one is how hard this job is. I was out of the classroom for three years early-ish in my career and I was blessed to work with teachers I had previously worked alongside as a classroom teacher. A former teammate told me, “The problem is, the minute teachers leave the classroom they forget. I’m not going to let you forget.” And she didn’t. She razzed me about too-long emails. She reminded me that teachers wanted staff development that would help them be a better teacher right away. She called me on all of it. And still I forgot. It may be impossible not to. When someone claims excuses are all that holds us back, I think of my friend, and how I forgot despite my best intentions, and I try to extend grace.
So for those of you struggling just to get through the days, I wish you a year like I’m having. I wish you bright, healthy, well-fed children, eager to learn. I wish you parents who help without being intrusive, who support your discipline decisions, who like your tweets. I wish you the autonomy to change course, to follow interests, to launch inquiries. I wish you children who give hugs, and laugh, and say “Good morning.”
Today a sixth grader asked me to play the song of the week again. We laughed together reading It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk. Someone came to me to celebrate how well she did on a quiz. A student and I struggled and laughed together over a math problem that challenged us both. I laughed with two different book clubs, and with a student who wanted to read her book aloud to me. If it had been a movie, the classroom would have been infused with a golden glow.
And I am so grateful for it all.