The In-Between Time.

It’s that time of the year where Thanksgiving is over and you have three full weeks of school looming over you before you can cross the finish line that is Christmas Break. The kids are ready for a long break, you’re ready for a long break, and the workload doesn’t get lighter just because you’re feeling tired.

Truly no rest for the weary.

The last couple weeks have been incredibly difficult for me (hence part of the reason there hasn’t been a new post in ages!). I have felt pulled in multiple directions, each person saying their request is the most important. I need to plan guided reading for fifteen groups, I need to implement solid mini-lessons, I need to prepare interactive read alouds, I need to integrate technology, I need to benchmark 60 children, I need to progress monitor about 30 of those children every two weeks, and on top of that I need to put together Read to Achieve portfolios for about 20 of those children in which I test them three times a week for twelve weeks.

But hey, at least that doesn’t happen until AFTER Christmas.

Did I mention that I sketched out the rest of my year using resources shared with me from other teachers on my own? Hopefully I don’t bomb the spring semester with what I laid out week by week.

I’ve realized in the last few weeks how hard it is to grow — growing hurts and it isn’t fun. I questioned myself a few weeks ago as to whether or not I’m truly in the right profession, which I have never done before. I take work home every single night and have work to do constantly, and honestly that takes a toll on a person after a while.

What I would give to not take work home. Wow.

Thanksgiving Break came with great relief, and I think that helped my exhausted spirit. Tonight I was able to knock out pretty much the rest of my week’s SmartBoard lessons, which is helpful, especially with so many meetings this week, and next week I start after school tutoring until Christmas break.

It kind of feels like running on a treadmill, and you run super fast but you don’t get anywhere. Yep, that’s what it feels like right now — I’m running like crazy trying to meet all of these unrealistic expectations (because it’s funny when people say that you can just take your time and focus on “one thing at a time,” but then that person comes back a week later and expects that you have everything and more completed), but I just need to step back and realize what I need to do for my kids. Only I know what those kids need with reading, and I want to be the best teacher I can be and give that to them, regardless of all the pressures I’m experiencing.

Today a student dropped a note on my desk and told me not to open it until the end of class. I obliged, mostly because there was no way I had time to open it right then anyway, and I almost forgot about it until the bell was ringing and my kids were lining up to go to the kiss-and-go lane (this is the cutest name for a car rider circle EVER). I opened the letter and read and was moved to tears at one sentence:

I admire the way you think about things, the way you care about us.

I think I’ve read the note about twenty times since this afternoon, and every single time it makes me get a lump in my throat.

No matter how much pressure administration or central office gives me, no matter how many things people are looking for in my classroom, and no matter how many benchmarks I have to give — it’s all worth it. These kids are all worth it, every second. I teach because I want kids to know their ideas have value, and that their voices can be heard. I want them to be lifelong learners, and I know I can’t do any of that until they know that I love them to pieces.

Yes, I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately; tired, overworked, underpaid, the usual teacher problems. Being the only English reading teacher in the third grade of a bilingual elementary school is not a walk in the park (if you think it is, I DARE YOU to come observe my class for a whole day — like I’m seriously double dog daring you), but I know I’m learning and growing from it. I’m becoming a better educator from these hardships, and I know I’ll be able to use this experience to fine tune my practice in the future. Looking ahead I see nothing but motivation to care for these kids more and to let them know they’re loved.

Mission: In Progress.

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