There is nothing like the first week of school tired, it seems. Well, perhaps it’s only contender is the first week with a new baby tired. We drag ourselves home, hoping that dinner has somehow magically arrived, that our house is not a mess, that our own kids are doing well because honestly, all we can think of is when we will get to go to bed.
While I love the first week of school, I always seem to forget how exhausting it is. How the excitement quickly morphs into an overwhelming sense of “there is so much to do…” How the only kids we can compare these new kids to are the ones we just had, and those kids had it all figured out…
So as I drove home yesterday, overwhelmed by this long list of what I needed to do this weekend in order to simply teach my 90 minutes on Monday, feeling like maybe I was not that great of a teacher after all, I remembered a few truths shared by others, experienced by me, every single year…
They don’t know us yet.
They don’t know our routines even if we have spent all week teaching them.
They don’t know our expectations and so they are trying to figure that out and sometimes we are not as crystal clear as we think we are.
They are just as overwhelmed at times as we are. Starting school is a whole lot of new and for some, it is a whole lot of negative. We might not see that yet, but that doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t there.
It’s okay to slow down. Your best-laid plans were based on fictitious children and now that the real children are here, our job is to make our plans fit the kids, not the other way around.
You are not a bad teacher if you haven’t reached every kid yet. If you are still forgetting names even though you just knew them. If you thought the lesson would be amazing when you planned it and it turned out to be mediocre instead. You are not a bad teacher even if you feel like one.
So last night, as my kids played and got their boundless energy out (where do they get it from?), I did a simple thing; sent notes of appreciation home. As I looked at my class lists, I remembered once again all of the great moments we did have in class, all of the kind behaviors, the kids who tried, the kids who smiled, the kids who didn’t think my crazy ideas were totally stupid.
The times when it did click. When it did work, rather than the times where I had to repeat, reteach, restate.
As I sent each note home, the excitement that had been hidden by exhaustion came back; the promise of an amazing year, the hopes that I have so carefully stoked all summer. These kids are awesome, we are the lucky ones who get to teach them.
Perhaps, like me, you need to be reminded as well?
I cannot wait for Monday.