Every school year starts as a clean slate with a whole new group of kids, parents, surprises, challenges, failures and successes. In some years patience is hard to find and requires digging a little bit deeper to find a little glimmer of what’s left and some years things run more smoothly from start to finish and teaching is a bit more effortless.
This year, even though it’s almost June, We're still working on walking quietly in the hallway, remembering to raise a hand when you have something important to say, not fooling around in the bathroom when you have a job to do, and teaching kids to be kind and respectful, this has been one of those years of digging just a little bit deeper.
This year has had its challenges, but when I look back on the past 9 months, (and I’m convinced it’s no coincidence that the school year is the same length as an average pregnancy) and I think about how far they have come, I know that the year has been successful in ways that I haven’t necessarily noticed day to day.
I have learned a lot from these children.
I’ve learned that classroom management is ever evolving. Every teacher has a bag of tricks we pull out to create a safe and happy learning environment and just when you think that after lots of years you have it down, you don’t. You need to abandon some of those tricks and find new ones and there is never a guarantee that those will work. But you keep trying because teachers don’t give up on anyone.
This year more than ever I have realized the importance of being on a team, the realization that I can’t, or wouldn’t want to do this alone, that some days the only thing that gets me through the door are the people I get to work with everyday.
I was reminded that every child has a gift even those that try my patience everyday, those that come with academic challenges, or difficult lives outside of school. Those kids are the ones I work at the hardest. Getting them to like coming to school everyday and engaged in the things we are learning, getting them to persevere and try their best even when they would much rather be playing video games or running around outside.
I’ve learned that even the shyest kid will eventually come around and show his true personality if I can show him that it’s safe to let it out.
I’ve learned that sometimes my expectations of a child’s ability is out of whack and they surprise me with the things they are capable of, or let me know when it’s time to back off a bit and just let a kid sit quietly in a corner with a good book.
I was reminded that a sibling is never like the one that came before and sometimes this is a pleasant surprise!
I learned that every family is unique and important and each and every parent wants what’s best for their child and I was reminded that every child is somebody’s baby.
I’ve learned that there is always something new to learn, about children and families, moms, dads, new baby sisters, big brothers, dinosaurs, The Force (although I’m pretty much an expert on all things Star Wars).
I’ve learned more about bravery this year than I ever expected to. I’ve seen children take risks that many adults are unable to take and I become a bit emotional when I realize how fortunate I am to have been here to witness it, support it and be a part of it.
This year I’ve had to teach more about acceptance than any other year, and occasionally it’s the adults in our building that I’ve had to educate more so than the kids. Kids are pretty accepting little creatures especially in kindergarten. Kids don’t notice color, or gender or disabilities, and if they do, they aren’t afraid to ask a question and deserve an honest answer. Lucky for me they are also pretty satisfied with the simple answers.
So this year even though I’m tired, really, really tired and very ready for summer, this year, this team and these kids have, in many ways, made me a better teacher and I will be forever grateful for that.