I think there may be 3 weeks left of school. At this point, I am not sure, simply because I don’t want to think about the end. While summer beckons, I also want to make sure that I stay fully present with the kids, the ones that I have the privilege to teach this year. Because teaching is a privilege, and at times, I need to remember that.
As we unwind a year of growing, of exploring, of hopefully doing work that mattered, I have been thinking about my own growth. As I pour through the work of students, marvel at their quiet moments of discovery, I wonder what the year has given me, beyond the laughs, the ups and downs, the conversations and lesson plans. I wanted my students to evolve in their thinking, in their reading, writing, speaking, but also in how they saw the world, but what about myself; what did I want for myself?
I wanted to be more present. To not worry so much about the outside, but rather be in the moment with the people who were in front of me. I said no more, said yes more sparingly, tried to tune in and also appreciate the sheer energy that it takes to be a present teacher, present human being, one that isn’t thinking of the next five steps while others are right there with us. I am still working on this as I continue to balance what it means to be a teacher, a mom, a wife, a human being who also needs time to just think and be still. For the coming year, it will mean less public Pernille, and more private me.
I wanted to be stronger. Daily yoga helped me with physical strength, knowing my own limitations and embracing them meant more room for my emotional strength. I recognized that I have given immense power to others who do not know me but have no problem judging me and how exhausting handing that type of power over to others has been for me. I recognized that as an introvert some places, both in real life and online, are simply too much for me, despite how amazing they can be for others. So no NCTE this coming year, yes only to one day of Nerdcamp, and more yeses to quiet reading, to outside walks, to turning off social media, to only dipping into Twitter for inspiration and knowledge rather than lengthy interaction.
I wanted to let go. It is amazing how much shame and embarrassment one human being can carry while realizing that these emotions are the ones I tend to carry with me the longest has both been startling and liberating. No wonder, my energy has been drained when all I can see in the mirror as I look are all of the things I have done poorly. And so there has been a lot of letting things go, of recognizing that once again, I am good enough, and that I don’t need to be perfect, but instead need to be a learner. That when my own family sees me, they see me as a good mom, as a good person, and that I will a better person if I embrace that, rather than what others who are not as important want me to believe.
I wanted to be more focused. Narrowing in my growth areas really helped me navigate all of the incredible opportunities that abound daily in our teaching world. I know I wanted to learn more about anti-racist practices, about helping students claim their voices as social activists, and about supporting the very students I teach, not as focused on the world at large and how I can help others. It meant writing and sharing less, it meant accepting advising roles for 7th grade GSA, for starting a spoken word poetry club, for co-faciliating a BSU book-club, for sitting with the very kids I teach and asking them what they need to be empowered, engaged and feel valued and trying to figure out what I can do to help them achieve that. It meant leading less and listening more, something that I continue to love in all aspects of my life.
I wanted to be more unafraid. Unfraid to be who I am, unafraid to explore what I do not know, unafraid to share my mistakes as I have in the past, but also unfraid to settle within myself and realize that perhaps my path does not continue in America but rather that as an immigrant to this nation, it is perhaps time for me leave. And so we have started exploring options, to see whether we can go home to Denmark or even Europe as international teachers once my husband finishes his degree as a Tech Ed teacher in a year and a half, whether somewhere else in the world will be our future destination. It is scary, yet exciting to think of uprooting my family like that, but I have never fully felt home in America and so perhaps home is waiting to be found out in the world. Even if it means leaving vital parts of our life behind.
So as I think of the year to come, of the new opportunities to come, I am excited to first have a summer of traveling, of reading, of being at the pool with my kids, of sipping as much tea as I can, of farmers’ markets and library visits. I am excited to rebuild my energy and excitement so I can say yes again. Yes, to somehow helping with the start of a Hispanic Student Union at our school, yes, to teaching an enriched English class, yes, to diving further into equity and anti-racist work, yes, to learning how to be a better teacher of writing. Yes, (perhaps) to writing a series of blog posts or a book that will perhaps help student dive deeper into reading identity, but not committing to anything I don’t have energy for if I can help it. Yes, to walks, to reading with my kids, to yoga, to eating better, to reducing our plastic usage, to traveling, to singing music loudly, and to getting more tattoos. Yes, to exploring new opportunities with an eye for what I can learn, rather than what I can teach.
And so I wonder, what has the previous year taught others? How did you grow? Did you accomplish the goals you set out to reach or did you realize that your life needed something else? What did you want to be this year?
PS: In case, you missed the announcement, I am running a book study of my first book Passionate Learners this summer in the Passionate Readers Facebook group. You should join us as it kicks off next weekend!
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.