Friday, December 19, 2014

Why I'm Not Counting Down the Days Until Break

Ok, the name of this post isn't entirely true. I know there are only two school days left until our holiday break. It's hard to not know that. I have not been counting down the days though. In fact, this year, it feels like time is slipping through my fingers and I wish it would slow down. I haven't felt this way at the mid-point of the year since my second year of teaching and I'm so, so grateful this excitement and joy is back!

There are many, many reasons for this excitement and joy. I'll save you a super long post and give you just the most important reasons why I'm not counting down the days until break.

  1. The most important reason of all: my unbelievable group of amazing first graders! I feel like I say this a lot, but I have a fantastic group this year. They make me smile each day, and they are almost always the reason I can get myself out of bed at 5:00 in the morning. Is everyday perfect? Absolutely not. They don't always meet my expectations, and I know there are days I disappoint them as well. However, we have times like this afternoon where every student is focused and on task and becoming better versions of themselves. We have moments like this morning where we read the book Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle while I fought back tears and they excitedly shared predictions and commented on what was happening. I'm going to miss those moments during the almost two weeks I'll be away from my kiddos. I'll miss them. 
  2. My coworkers. I work with an amazing group of teachers, and I'm so grateful to have them in my hallway and school. I spent three years working in a preschool located inside a church. Until my last year there I was the sole teacher at the preschool, which meant I had very few contacts with education backgrounds. I had no idea what I was missing. Since my move to my current school, I have found "my people." We can bounce ideas around together and plan amazing things. When we have rough days, we support each other. We laugh about the fun things our students say, and we worry about our students together. We are truly a community, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I'll miss their camaraderie and friendship.
  3. Play. I had no idea what role play would have in my teaching life until I took my first teaching job as a preschool teacher. I took so many classes that first year as I earned my early childhood endorsement and worked to get up to date on the state expectations for preschool. My whole philosophy of what school should be changed in that first year. The type of playing my first graders do is much different than the play my preschoolers did, but it is play none-the-less. We explore all kinds of new things each day. We explore books and writing. We explore math tools and play math games. We explore technology (my favorite!). It makes me smile from ear to ear as I see them playing with a new tool to create or learn about something new. I'll miss that excitement and newness.
  4. The challenge. As I've already mentioned, everyday is not perfect in our classroom. With that, comes the challenge. Dealing with everything from stealing to pushing and shoving to keeping our classroom clean and organized keeps me on my toes. I know my students are good, sweet, caring people. They are young though. Part of my job is to help teach them how to operate as good citizens in our world. This is harder than it sounds. On top of character education comes the challenge of good lesson planning and teaching methods. I do my best to go day by day and not be overwhelmed by everything I should be doing. At the same time, I try to make each day better than the last. This, too, is harder than it sounds. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't love every second of it, though. Teaching is my passion. Becoming an even better teacher than I was yesterday is my goal. This doesn't stop over Christmas break, but it is nice to have a break from the intensity of school. I still have Twitter, and I can still think about the second half of the year. I will just lose my sandbox - my safe place to play and explore. I'll miss that.
  5. Finally, the routine. As much as I don't enjoy dragging myself out of bed at 5 a.m., I do like knowing the basic schedule of each day. No day is identical to the day before, but I know all of the key components will be there. Who knows what's going to happen during the break? We don't even really have our family Christmases scheduled yet. The lack of schedule sometimes makes me more tired than school does. I will miss waking up with a fairly clear picture of what my day will look like. 
Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to sleeping in late, staying up late, and wearing jeans or comfy pants everyday. I'm looking forward to reading books for fun and writing about topics I choose, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family. I will miss school though, and I'm certain I will be excited to go back in January. (I'm such a nerd...)

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