Today I turn 35. It feels like an accomplishment. After all, 35 is so serious and I look at my own life and I realize; it’s a good one. Every year on my birthday for the past many years, I have received a Futureme letter. A letter written on the previous year’s day as a reminder to myself of what my hopes, fears, and dreams are. As a reminder to myself to pause, reflect, and appreciate. This year’s letter mentioned the hopes for Augustine, our very premature baby, and how I hoped she might be walking by now. In March of last year, she was still so little and we had no idea what the future would hold. My worries for her shine through in the letter and now they seem so distant. She is fine. She has been walking for several months now, she sleeps well, and she runs after her siblings. Reading the letter brought me back to those nights spent worrying about her future. I am thankful for that.
Because the thing is, we forget how much we accomplish in a year. We forget what consumed our thoughts, what goals we had. Once we reach them we forget how passionately we yearned and how so many decisions hinged on making it there. We forget how many days are in a year and how much can change so quickly. And when we forget we forget to celebrate all that have happened, how we have grown, and what we now can do. We live our lives so quickly, chasing after our next big dream that the dreams of the past fade away so quickly.
I see it with my students as well. They forget how they felt about reading or school when they started. They forget where they started, they only see where they are now. They only see the things they cannot do right now and not all of the things they have conquered, how far they have grown. What a shame that is. What a shame that in our hurried school days we don’t take time to celebrate how far they have come until the very last day. When it almost seems to late to realize that yes they have grown and yes they are ready for the next big challenge.
So this year, on this day, I am celebrating the little things; Augustine walking and sleeping through the night, Thea starting to read, the twins speaking up a storm, a husband who still loves me even though I know I am a demanding wife, an incredible new job where I feel like I fit even on the days my lessons fail, 2 books that a few people actually say have helped them, a new home that isn’t falling apart, a cup of tea, great books, and a life filled with so much love.
I don’t know what the next year holds. I have been working on my bucket list for the year. And that’s ok. I will continue to hope and dream. I will continue to revel in the accomplishments in the past, hold on them for today, and then set my sights on the road ahead. I know it will bring many days of happiness and some days of sorrow, whatever they are, I am ready. I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.