This morning I had gotten little to no sleep, my mind was racing and I was sluggishly sipping a tea from Starbucks and carrying five baskets of teacher "stuff" into school when one of my new students, fresh off the school bus, tackled me in a full hug.
"Good morning, Miss Leiss!" "Good morning, sweetie." "Where are you going? Can I go with you?" "No, you have to stay here with the bus friends." "But why, Miss Leiss? I want to go with you! I always want to go with you." I literally had to pry his hands off of me; it was pretty funny. I started laughing and walked into school.
Then I entered my room and the chaos in my mind began again. I was organizing lessons, putting out morning work, and sharpening pencils when I heard a child at my door.
"HI, Miss Leiss!"
I turned and thought it was one of my own and tell them to go to the small gym until the bells rings. But it was my precious student Kiwi from last year's class.
"HI, Kiwi!" I told him. He paused at my doorway and said, "I think a good morning hug is in order." "You know, I really would love a good morning hug," I said back.
He squeezed me so tight and then replied, "Your classroom looks super super cool! It's really cool, but it's not like the real one."
I started to laugh as he left. Two students attacking me with hugs this morning and interrupting my crazy trains of thought. It's amazing how sweet and beautiful a child can be, and how they can completely turn my day around by just being themselves.
I adore first graders, and I got to explain why the other night. I love that they accidentally call me "mom" all the time. I get to be that person for them everyday! Me! What an honor. I love that they need a million hugs everyday. I love that they use too many band-aids on owies that aren't even needing one. I love that they dance around and sing silly songs with me. I love that I get to build their foundation of learning for them, and be a part of shaping the people they are going to be. I just love them.
As far as what Kiwi said, I knew what he meant. The layout of my classroom has changed quite a bit. There are different things on the walls, still in a mass of jungle leaves and animal prints, but it does look different. Kiwi, however, told me it's not like the "real" one. To him, what our classroom was like last year has been forever imprinted in his mind. He remembers it, and not only that, but he comes by most days in the morning for a "good morning hug."
I had a parent tell me yesterday that I just need to look at how far my kids came last year and how much they love me, and let it encourage me. Bless that parent, and bless all the others that continually push me forward and make me smile. My new group of kids are definitely getting there, and it's just the beginning. We've had a really good week together, and I'm starting to remember why I love doing this. I've gotten to love on my kids like no other. I've praised them endlessly, stopped focusing on what they aren't doing right, and started focusing on what they ARE doing! Things such as, it's a miracle these kids get to school on time- I praise them for that every day now, because truly it is; completing and doing excellent work, because that is quite a feat; giving answers, even if they are incorrect, because their participation is a wonder that not always comes as easy; and the fact that my kids are so into our chapter book, James and the Giant Peach, and are beginning to love reading. I have to learn to celebrate the small victories for now, just as much as the big ones!
I have learned a lot these first 4 weeks of school, perhaps more than my own students have. But I am so excited to continue. :)