Yesterday was one of "those days". Shuffled through meetings, lengthy discussions about tangential aspects of teaching, time spent in training sessions on skills I am already adept at, more updates and news trickling down from administration that makes little sense to those of us in the classroom, and the latest batch of oh-by-the-way-we-have-this-to-deal-with-this-year challenges. Sigh. The kind of day when I want to call up the local university and persuade undecided majors not to choose the teaching profession.
When all was said and done, I returned to my classroom. While I have been there every week all summer long, I still have a to-do list that isn't to-done. Thats's just part of teaching; I spent days creating materials and thinking through logistics for my writing station, but that's just one small segment of our day. There's still math, spelling, reading....the list truly never ends.
I made headway, but still had miles to go when I called it quits and sat at my reading table to reflect and gather myself before heading home hours later than originally planned. And that's when I started to cry. Looking around the room, there is endless possibility for 25 second graders. I already know three that are more than just a little behind. I know one who had such a terrible year last year that his parents were going to transfer him out of our district. One of my students from last year is returning to my room specifically because I will probably be able to handle his extreme emotional needs better than a new teacher who hasn't had a year's experience with him might. I thought about the increase in expectations on teachers, how we might as well write "miracle worker" next to some of the requirements. I thought about our fledgling curriculum, on the downhill spiral due in part to apathy and part to bad press and passing responsibility, but added pressure in any case to show its merits.
To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement.
But then it hit me. The kids are coming! In just 24 hours, my room will be buzzing with excited little second graders. They will be checking out their desks, and showing their parents around the room. They will find their cubby and their bug in the hallway. They will hug me and shy away from me and giggle and be nervous right there beside me.
And I breathed a sigh of relief.
I will do my best. And my students will too. Most days. Somedays I will be tired, and some days they will be tired. Some days we will learn so much and others our brains will not absorb a single thing. We will laugh and play and sneak in hours of learning disguised as fun and yet we will also spend time discussing better choices and practicing behaviors and sitting with heads down at our desks.
And no matter how the year ends, no matter what my scores say on my evaluation, or what the state says about the status of our school, or what the politicians say should be happening in my classroom, I will know that I poured my heart and soul into my kids. I will know that they got every bit of energy and enthusiasm and passion that I have for my profession, often at the cost to my own child. All of us in Room 18 will know that we had the best second grade year ever.
And that is what counts in my book.