What? Didn't I just start doing this? Didn't I just have Meet the Teacher Night and nervously thumb through parent forms and sort school supplies while not making any conversation with my students because I wanted them to fear me?
Haha. I've come so far.
But this is what I have been learning this week: yes, I have come so far. But there is still so far to go. I'm excited for what that entails-- that if I feel like I finally have a flow, a sweet rhythm to my every day in the classroom, and it's just my first year...then it's only going to go up from here.
The year up to this point can be summed up in a few words: challenging, difficult, rewarding, joyful. I have enjoyed every single part of it-- the ups, the downs, the week before Christmas break; the days where I've had to step out and circle the school a few times to shed a few tears before returning to the classroom to find my kids doing Daily 5, working independently, engaged in their work, and laughing to myself... Why am I so worried? Why do I put so much pressure on myself? Because my kids-- they are great.
I have taught them how to be independent learners and how to take charge of their own learning. This is a huge success for my students. This is a difficult thing to do for students, to instill in them the love of learning and create intrinsic, self motivation. They are now operating, I would venture to say, 90% of the time on their own. Their dependence on me is slim-- of course they still need me to take care of cuts, scrapes, mean older brothers and the sad times when the cafeteria is out of strawberry milk. They need me to teach them new information, to excite them about school and learning, to be silly with them and name our Smart Board DJ and blame him when things mess up technologically. But all of this aside, they have seriously taken responsibility for themselves as learners, and they tackle it all with finesse. I do not have prouder moments than when I have to leave the room to take care of an accident or borrow paint from another teacher, to return and find my students working as diligently as before, all over the carpet, tools and supplies everywhere, excited over spelling words or writing or math, what have you.
I think the kicker, though, is not that I credit myself for any of this. I have spent many moments crediting myself, only to find the next several days flat on my face. The credit has to be attributed to the one who creates, the one who is mighty to save. He has created me, made me into this teacher, given me the skills and patience and love necessary. He enables me to do all of this, and I can't say that it is me at all.
Spring break has been extremely lazy, relaxing, and full of reading, friends, music writing, and family time. I have enjoyed the time off, of course, and feel refreshed to finish the year out strong. I have 10 weeks left with these precious children who I have come to love as my own. And I am ready to make the most of them.