May 27, 2010

An End in Sight!!!

T-5 1/2 days left of school, 4 1/2 days with kids...not that I'm counting or anything ;)

Don't get me wrong--I'm not counting down because I can't bear the thought of spending another day with my class.  Actually, that's not even close to accurate.  I was looking at my class today and was just in awe of how far they have come this year.  Yes, they still get too loud, forget their homework, and talk back.  As we have gotten closer and closer to June, even the "good ones" have had a little extra sass.  Yes, they make me crazy.  But I have come to love this class.  Today I was thinking about how they have been able to handle having their desks in table groups of 6, to participate in a very discussion/decision based social studies simulation, and to write for 30 minutes plus in their "wagon train" diaries, and some students ask for more time (yes, it did take a good 10 minutes to settle down and START, but once they did, they didn't want to stop).  They have come a long way.  I have come a long way.  WE have come a long way. 

I know in 5, 10, 20 years I will look back at this year as a pivotal one--they told me when I started here that if you can teach at my school, you can teach anywhere.  While I don't know about that, I do know that no matter what kind of hoodlums walk into my room next August (this year's fourth graders are quite the wild bunch...if by wild you mean completely crazy), I will be able to get through it.  I made it through this year, after all, right?  (And hopefully never again will I stay in the building until 10pm on a Tuesday, or so late on a Friday that my car gets keyed in the parking lot...)

And so, as I peeled packing tape and sticky tack off my walls today while the kids had art class, and almost broke my neck trying to detach those nifty little things that hang from drop ceiling tiles, I began to feel a sense of closure.  We have almost made it through the year.  I didn't kill anyone, the kids didn't kill each other, most of them seemed to have learned at least a few things along the way, and I managed to keep the job for next year.  All in all, that sounds something like a success, no matter how many tears were shed in the process. :)

Things to look forward to: A quiet records day tomorrow, trying out new furniture arrangements in the room Tuesday with my mentor, performing pioneer-inspired readers' theatre plays, staff end of the year party next Friday

Things I have mixed feelings about: Field Day (never really liked it even as a kid...I know, I'm THAT kid...), packing up the rest of the room

Things I am NOT looking forward to: Getting a bill for the text books my kiddos lost this year and claim are NOT at their houses (although my mentor insists this won't fall on me, I'm not so may be time to start throwing up some extra prayers to my good friend St. Anthony)

May 23, 2010

Final Countdown

I admit, I have been MIA from the blog for the past few weeks!  It seems like I go through cycles where I'll feel super pulled-together and settled into the teaching routine for a week or two, then super stressed out (and not necessarily for any good reason) for a few weeks.  After a few crazy weeks, I'm feeling incredibly relaxed right now.  It's official, it is late May and we are heading into the home stretch:  2 weeks left of school, and only 7 1/2 days actually teaching kids.  It's surreal.  A part of me can't help but think of graduation last year and all the many emotions I was feeling:  happiness to be finished with class, sadness to be leaving college, excitement to be starting my career, complete heart brokenness to be leaving my friends, and in general a beautiful peaceful feeling about coming back home.  The end of my first year teaching is bringing with it a similar ambivalence (a word I taught my fifth graders last week, and am very pleased to report that they have since been using it in class discussions).

If I had one of those giant "How are you feeling today?" posters, I would mark the following emotions:

1. Jubilant: Oh yes, I am nothing if not excited.  Excited about sleeping in, minimal work this summer (just a few hours of tutoring a week), reading at least 10 books, vacations, and in general relaxing and recovering from the stress of the year.  I am thrilled that in a matter of weeks I will never be a first year teacher again. :)

2. Frazzled:  Ohh man, the end of the year is certainly crazy.  Assemblies right and left, miscellaneous "to do" things, trying to strike a delicate balance between cramming things in to make sure they are wrapped up before the last day, and stretch other things out so we have something to DO until the last short, it is crazy.  This whole year has been an exercise in flexibility for me, the eternal planner, who has had to let go of some of my rigidity and learn to go with the flow a little bit...

3. Proud:  Looking at my students' MAP scores over the past few weeks, I am overwhelmed at how far a few of them have come.  I literally get tears in my eyes thinking about a few kids and their growth.  There's the student who almost made me quit this fall because of his horrible behavior problems who (while he is no means an angel...) I now look at and think, "You have come so far.  WE have come so far," and know that I am a better teacher because of him.  Then there's the student who asked me in September if I could teach him how to use periods in his writing, and while he's hardly on his way to a Pulitzer, 9 times out of 10 he uses punctuation correctly.  I am so proud of these children.  And honestly, I am proud of myself, as cheesy as that sounds.  In November, I never thought I'd make it to the end of the year.  And here it is!!! 

4. Wistful: While I am more than ready to say goodbye to some of my students, others I find it hard to imagine teaching without them in my class (especially that handful who were all that got me coming to school again so many days in fall).  I will never forget this class--the good, the bad, and the wonderful. :)

5. Shocked:  Some days I literally cannot believe that after the rocky start to the year, not only have I managed to survive, but I actually have a job for next year still and am excited to come back. :)

6. Content: These past few days I have felt so peaceful.  While there is still more I would have liked to have done for my kids, especially a certain few extra needy ones, I really feel that I can put my stamp on the end of this year and say, "I gave it all I had, and I am happy with what I have accomplished."

7. Anticipatory:  For the past few months, I have almost constantly been thinking about things I'd like to do next year.  This year it took me months to even figure out a routine, and I am STILL figuring out so many organizational and management things.  I know that every class is different, but I keep thinking about how much easier so many things will be next year, as well as how much better I will be next year.  I'm excited to try so many new things, especially writer's workshop, and love the fact that my job has fresh starts built right into it.

The past week and a half or so has been nothing if not therapeutic for me.  Although I have been a little stressed, I've had the opportunity to spend time with some of my best friends lately, and find myself almost nightly thinking about how blessed I am.

I'll update on the end of the year festivities/chaos in the next two weeks:  records day, field day, packing up the classroom (I am STILL cleaning out stuff from its previous occupant!), and saying goodbye.

May 2, 2010

To my student that lies and steals

Dear Student,

This has to stop--now.  Your stories, your lies, your stealing--all of it.  STOP.  Friday, when I found out you had been lying to me in little ways all year, I looked at you in a new light.  I mean, taking stickers is one thing.  But cell phones?  mp3 players?  GLASSES???  [Yes, I learned that the glasses this child has been wearing all year were stolen.  She does not WEAR glasses.  I know.]  I fear for your future--where will you be in 5 years?  Next year, even? 

I fear for you, and I ache for you.  What happened in your life that caused you to do these things?  What can we do to help you?  What do you need? 

I am at a loss.  For now, unfortunately all I think I can do is keep loving you, and pray for you...
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