I normally try to keep my blog posts upbeat, but this time of year has gotten under my skin. I hate this time of year. Many teachers I've talked with dread the beginning of the year. That time when students don't know the expectations and are the youngest they'll be all year can certainly be intimidating. It's the time we put in some of the hardest work of the whole year creating a classroom environment, establishing routines, and building strong relationships. It's a tough time of year, no doubt. For me, though, this time of year (March and April) is my least favorite.
I hate the uncertainty. This is about the time of year when budgets for the next year are discussed, which, of course, means decisions on possible job cuts. In my five years of teaching, I have never had the peace of knowing I would have a job the next year. When I was teaching preschool, I took to marketing like a crazy person to try to attract parents to my preschool every. stinking. spring. I don't think I'll ever forget the feeling I had when no one, seriously no one, came to registration night that first year. I was completely defeated. Last year, there was uncertainty as to whether there would be enough students for me to move up to first grade. It's exhausting, and, in the interest of being completely honest, had I known this was the way teaching would be I might have chosen a different career.
It's not just the uncertainty of this time though. I hate saying goodbye to good people when new jobs are taken or retirements are celebrated. Saying goodbye to the people who had supported me my first three years of teaching after accepting a job in my current district was difficult. They had been there for me during some challenging times, and they put in many extra hours to support my efforts to build a quality preschool. I hated telling them I was leaving. Last year, I was so grateful I missed the staff meeting (thank you late parents!) during which my principal announced he was leaving. I knew what he was going to say and I just didn't want to hear those words. Throughout the school year, I bond with the people around me. We are in this together, after all. It sucks when that bond is broken.
Then, of course, there are the kids. I hate the fact that in just a few weeks "my kids" will no longer be "my kids." We are our own little family. Certainly we have our issues from time to time, as every family does, but each person in my classroom has his/her own role and mostly we function well together. I cherish each and every one of them, and I don't want to break that up. We have a good thing going! They're ready for second grade, and I know they'll find a new role in their new classes. I just want to keep them forever with me.
Speaking of moving my kiddos up to second grade, I hate the insecurity of worrying whether or not I did a good job with this group. Are they going to do okay with a different teacher? Will their next teacher be frustrated that they never quite got the hang of the whole organization thing? (We still routinely have sweatshirts or coats or hats or mittens on the floor of our coatroom. I do the best I can to teach organizational skills. What if that's not enough?) Are my students going to get mixed in with the other kids and not fair as well academically? Will their new teachers understand when my wiggly guys wiggle from time to time? I have students who still occasionally forget to capitalize the first letter in their sentence. Is that okay? I have students who aren't super fast with their addition facts. Is that okay?
There's just so much.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to May. I look forward to celebrating the time my kids and I have had together and the hard work we have all done. Hopefully, by May, things will be more smooth. There will always be unknowns - that's just life in general - but we will be a few steps closer to figuring them out.