Today I got ready for school and snuck out of the house while Maggie and Barry were still sleeping. Maggie finally sleeps most of the night in her own bed, but usually quietly finds her way into ours by the time dawn breaks. As I tip-toed back into our room to get my shoes, I could just barely make out their sleeping shapes – both on their backs with one hand above their head. Sydney was snoring at the foot of the bed and I chuckled to myself as I left. I love my family.
We’ve very slowly found ourselves a bit of a routine around here. And it seems to work, but I know this feeling of things settling and finding their place is only temporary because more change is on the horizon. For now I find comfort in knowing what the next couple months will bring: early morning departures, early afternoons together and bed times that come only too fast. We’re going to soak it up, this new normal.
Every year that I’ve taught, Barry has gotten to know my “kids” from the funny anecdotes and stories that I bring home. He is such a good listener, that he remembers kids from years past and will sometimes bring them up. This year is no exception, I’ve got 22 hilarious kindergarten students that I spend my mornings with. From the time I greet them at the door, with a handshake and hello, to the second I wave goodbye, with a happy smile, we’re going. Half day kindergarten just doesn’t stop. At all.
Today was the first day that we had a somewhat regular schedule and I panicked because I’m extremely worried how I’ll fit it all in – I have high, high expectations for these students and that means that I need to be prepared. It also means that I need to honor the process of these little 5 and 6 year olds. And some days that means that I don’t get to fit it all in, no matter how prepared I am. And I LOVE a good plan. Of the four days of school I have had so far, I have found myself learning something new about kindergarteners. They are capable and I am too, so I’m confident that we’ll get where we need to go.
Seeing how my students function in the classroom – taking turns, following directions, helping others, asking questions, trying something new, expressing frustration – makes me a bit more hyper-aware as a parent to Maggie. I notice her in a different way and have become more intentional with my words, actions and choices. I wasn’t sure that was possible, but we’re constantly evolving and changing, right?
Our princpal has not been able to be at school for the last few days and we’ve had a former principal return to us for this short time. This woman sends the staff a quick e-mail in the morning and typically includes information that is necessary for us to know. But she also laces her notes with positive notes, comments and quotes. And the other day she refereed to us as ‘champs,’ when I read that I felt SOOOO cool and it wasn’t even specifically meant for me. It was a reminder that the simplest of things – a nickname, a smile, a quick compliment – can make anyone feel good.
Included in one of her e-mails was a portion of one of Mary Oliver’s poems. This, just like being called a ‘champ,’ made me remember that each day we can make the choice to be happy, positive and patient.
“Good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
In happiness and kindness.”
Taken from Why I wake Early by Mary Oliver
Get after it, Champ!!
doing stuff , family , life , work
For the second September in a row I’m not bustling around getting my own classroom ready for students and rehashing summer escapades with co-workers. Instead, I’m getting to enjoy this last bit of sunshine and head out the door with our picnic lunch to meet up with some friends for the day. I need to remember this feeling, a relaxing September, because when I do head back to the classroom (when is that happening, again?) I’ll forget these days.
I stopped by my former classroom a couple weeks ago and discovered that it had all but moved on without me. New furniture arrangement, new projector, new teacher, new, new new. It felt a bit bittersweet, but life moves on and things change, so it wasn’t that difficult to see. Plus, I still feel very connected to the rest of the building and the people, so not having my room be mine anymore didn’t sting too bad.
Over Labor Day weekend we went to a family BBQ hosted by Barry’s grandparents. It was a day full of badminton, watermelon, family, new babies, engagements, and sunshine. I had asked Barry’s uncle if we could raid their apple tree, but by the time we rolled out of Greg and Linda’s driveway it was dark and Maggie was ready to fall asleep. Yesterday morning we woke up to a huge bag of apples on our porch that Barry’s dad had dropped of on his way to work and I couldn’t be more happy. I’ve got my work cut out for me: chopping, slicing, grating, boiling, mashing, mixing…..and whatever else I can find to do with these things before they go bad.
I’m not shaking hands at Meet the Teacher or making sure that all my students get on the right bus, but I know plenty of teachers that are doing those things and much, much more. I also know students that are starting their first day of school, making new friends, learning the ins and outs of a school day with a new teacher. It all takes such work and dedication. There is such freshness and newness in these first weeks that is both exhausting and exhilarating.
As I grate, peel, steam, mash and whatever else I’m doing with these apples, I know that I’ll be thinking of my fellow teacher friends and and students. I only hope that every teacher has a class full of students that makes coming to work a highlight, and that every student has a teacher that is happy to see their face every day. Bustle along, friends, and I hope this school year is as blessed as can be.
I’m off to see about some apples.