Deep Gladness, Deep Need.

Last week I attended BEST NC’s Education Innovation Lab at SAS. It was refreshing to sit with those both inside and outside of education to try to solve the state’s overarching issue of recruitment & retainment of teachers. There were several keynotes followed by smaller breakouts, both of which had my wheels turning at an alarmingly rapid rate.

Andy Baxter of the Southern Regional Education Board spoke about the narrative around teacher turnover, and how ultimately, according to a NC DPI report on turnover from 2008-2014, only 1.5% of North Carolina educators leave the profession because they’re dissatisfied with teaching. Despite this small number (that has, to be fair, risen since 2008), we keep hearing about all the teachers leaving the state to teach elsewhere or exiting the profession because they’re burnt out or tired of dealing with the same problems that seemingly go unfixed every election cycle.

The point he made that resonated most with me was a quote from one of his campus pastors when he was in college.

Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.

Deep gladness, deep need.

I sit and think about why I do what I do. This job is exhausting, and honestly, I have REALLY been feeling that this year. I’ve been frustrated with so many things, mostly outside of my control, and all my sprinting from these last five years teaching is finally catching up to me. I sometimes find myself unmotivated when I get home, and many nights I am just exhausted. But why do I do this? I do it because I get student feedback on projects that say “I learned that I can do more than I ever thought I could” and “I learned I can make friends.” I do it because it’s worth it when a kid comes back and thanks you for being a hard teacher because (s)he learned more from you than any of the other ‘easier’ teachers. I do it because watching students’ eyes glisten as they see their dreams 3D printed into reality is real, actual, unadulterated magic.

I do it because I find deep gladness in fulfilling a deep need: the need to invest in children and educate our society.

There is a very special happiness that washes over me when I am in my element with students, helping them learn to love stuffing their brains to the brim with knowledge. Moments where I can step back into my doorway with students not noticing I’m there, when they’re so engaged in their own learning process that my presence is irrelevant — those moments I savor. They’re moments when I remember my deep gladness meeting, maybe even exceeding, that deep need.

My focus for the upcoming quarter and remainder of the year is to make it a continued priority to stop and take pause to recall these small moments, to revel in gratitude for my passion to work in the lives of children, no matter what the circumstance. It is imperative for us all to remember why we carry on in this profession.

Deep gladness, deep need.

A Little Insight to My Heart.

In light of Teacher Appreciation Week starting next week, I share with you an essay I wrote for an application I completed recently. Here are my personal beliefs on education, as well as what has influenced me and shaped me into the teacher I am today. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the support given me throughout the years, especially this year as I am humbled and honored to represent my school as their Teacher of the Year. I dedicate this to all of my teachers; I wouldn’t be where I am without each of you.

When I was in fourth grade, I hated long division. My confidence in math was low and I dreaded the nights when I had to drag my math book home and do the even numbered problems (why didn’t they put ALL the answers in the back of the book?!). On the brink of tears at my desk and struggling through yet another math worksheet, my teacher called me over to her table, sat with me patiently, and walked me through every step of every problem on the page. She praised my efforts and gently redirected my misunderstandings, and it was in that moment I knew I wanted to be like that. I wanted to help people, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and there was no better way to do that than to become a teacher.

In my teaching career, I have learned many things: this is the most difficult job in the world, yet also the most rewarding. I fully believe that there is no greater feeling than to watch a child grow under your care as a teacher. With every progress monitoring measure, every rigorous text discussion, every project I do with my students, I am filled to the brim with joy and pride for the learning successes that they have made along the way. Watching the ‘lightbulbs’ go off, challenging student thinking, and witnessing students coming out of their shells into a bigger world are just a few of the perks of my job. For each moment I feel exhaustion, there are many more moments like those aforementioned that warm my heart and remind me why I work so hard and stay up so late: watching children grow not only as learners, but as young citizens who are part of a community that extends beyond just my classroom.

It is an incredible honor to teach the children I do. I adore each and every child in my classroom, past, present, and future. I expect their best, and in return they deserve my best — this is the drive that pushes me constantly. I believe that every child can learn and that every child has a gift to share with others. I believe a classroom should be student-centered and filled with real world opportunities for students to show their learning. I believe in transparency in the classroom and letting my students know when I have made mistakes and how I go about learning from those moments.

My ultimate drive as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students. I don’t just want to teach to standards, but rather create lifelong learners. I am always up for a challenge and am willing to try many research-based practices with my students. I am passionate about curriculum development and had an amazing opportunity as a Kenan Fellow last summer to write an integrated space unit for my students. Currently, I am using a blended model approach to learning in my reading blocks, and my project based learning units include projects with authentic audiences and experiences for my students to prepare them for their futures.

In my time at The University of North Carolina, I went back and forth with a few majors before deciding on education. I thought that choosing teaching came too naturally to me, and I didn’t want to make a rash decision before committing to something so serious. That’s when I realized that this isn’t just a profession that you choose to study; rather, it is a lifestyle that chooses you, and I am blessed beyond measure to have the passion that I have for teaching.

The night before my very first day as an educator, my teacher from fourth grade called me to give me a pep talk. At that moment I truly understood the impact a teacher could have on students, and that is a moment for which I can only hope I will have with one of my students someday.

High Demands & Higher Stakes.

The high demands of being a highly-effective teacher are only getting higher, right along with the stakes of being an educator.

I think of myself as an incredibly passionate person, with the very best interest of my students in mind and heart. I spend time outside of school thinking about my kids and how they can benefit from my experiences and what all I can offer them as their teacher. I long to give them the chances to think creatively and inspire them to be greater than they think they ever could be. With this dedication and drive comes time, and lots of it. I know I bring some of that onto myself, and I willingly admit that I don’t HAVE to reply to 40 reading journals a week, but I do it because I know how incredibly valuable that is. I know I don’t HAVE to scour for interesting articles about topics my kids like, but I do it because I know it will engage them in the lesson. I know I don’t HAVE to spend hours trying to come up with innovative, hands-on lessons for our project time, but I do it because I know that’s how my kids will learn best.

With the additional time it takes to do this myriad of extras, I wonder how long a person can go on being a truly great teacher.

The highest demand of a highly-effective teacher is time. There’s never enough time to make all the copies, print all the report cards, schedule all the conferences, reply to all the emails, attend all the meetings, write all the lessons, test all the kids, all on top of actually TEACHING.

I told someone last week that I didn’t spend four years of my academic life at UNC to get an education degree so I can sit in a plastic blue chair in the hallway for a cumulative nine weeks testing children on an iPad.

I’m here to teach. To motivate. To challenge.

If you know me, you know I’m a list-maker. I love lists. I love color-coding. I love color-coding lists. I’m an organized, efficient human being. Every day though, regardless of how much I cross off my list, more always seems to be added to it by the hour. Meetings pop up or emergency copies need to be made. I like to think I’m fairly good with prioritizing what needs to be done, but the problem is that with teaching, no list is ever complete.

How long can a teacher go on in a profession that gives so little time to process and reflect and, if I may be blunt, PEE? My lunch block shouldn’t count as a planning block, and I shouldn’t have to sit through meetings that have nothing to do with what goes on in my classroom.

The stakes are high for keeping good teachers. If teachers are continually treated this way, how can anyone expect them to stay in the profession? How is it possible to choose what “gives” when it comes to being a teacher? Isn’t everything we do important for the learning of our kids?

I spend so much time making sure that I’m prepared and that my kids will have a positive learning experience in my classroom each day. I do this because they deserve that from me. I work this hard because those kids deserve my best, and in turn, I expect their best. I spend so much time because that time pays off and makes this job so much more rewarding than I ever could have imagined (honestly, there are few more fulfilling moments than hugging a child and hearing him saying, “I miss you” in the most sincere way after you went to his little league baseball game on a Saturday morning).

The time is worth it for the kids, but it’s so important to remember that you can’t neglect yourself along the way. Balance is a battle, and we’re all fighting the good fight. I hope the high demands to be a highly-effective teacher continue to be high so that we, as professionals, can strive to collaborate and push ourselves to be better; however, I also hope that these demands don’t drive more to the higher stakes of leaving the teaching profession as a whole.

Meeting the Workdays.

This week has been a hard one. It’s been a week full of meetings, trainings, and classroom setup. It’s Thursday and I’ve already worked 40 hours this week at the school (this doesn’t count my out of school time preparing materials). This week has also been a time of great stress and anticipation — I was given the task of reorganizing my classroom library per district standard (they’ve required all 2nd-5th grade libraries be categorized by genre and not reading level now), and doing this with over 600 books is rather daunting. The stress of completing that monster task on top of all the other little things that needed to get done made my blood pressure fairly high, of that I’m certain. Despite all this, I have to say this week has made me incredibly grateful to the handful of friends who made my classroom setup a success — without you all, I would have been so behind and so much more stressed (y’all are SAINTS and I love you immensely). Lastly, this week has been a time for reflection and reminders about just how much I adore this job.

Tonight was my third Meet the Teacher Night. My heart still beats a little faster when I hear a tap on the door when the first family arrives. There’s something so special about the first connection I get to make with a child — it’s one of my favorite things. I introduce myself and shake his/her hand, and we proceed to talk about the things that are exciting about third grade and all the wonders that the year holds for us and our learning. Parents tell me a little about their child, and their insight is (usually) appreciated. I particularly enjoy hearing things like how parents want their child to grow in confidence and public speaking ability — I really like when parents see that their child can grow more than just academically. Then I get comments about children being reluctant readers and parents wish me luck with their child this year in reading class.

Oh, your child is a reluctant reader? Let’s see if that’s still the case in June.

[Sidenote: Actually, some of my favorite kids to work with are the reluctant readers. They’re the ones who help me realize how I can make literacy something every child wants to access.]

This is the first time I’ve been in a school where I was there the year prior. I’m in the same room, have the same things, and will teach the same content areas. This also means that this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to have previous students visit me.

I don’t know if my heart has been more full upon seeing about a dozen of my students from last year come by to visit me tonight on their own accord. The first boy who came to see me was just absolutely thrilled — I asked how his summer was and if he had been down to fourth grade yet, and his mom interjected that he HAD to come see me first before going downstairs. Another student came by and told another student while in my embrace that I was an “awesome teacher” (cue tears). Another student, one of the ones who many teachers had trouble with last year, also came to visit. We pinky promised that we’d work out some lunch dates this year while he’s in fourth grade so that we can still talk about our favorite Gary Soto books (but seriously, cue the tears right now because I am just a hot mess).

Child after child came by, and my heart felt closer and closer to exploding with each snuggle.

Between seeing my babies from last year (because yes, they’re forever my babies even if they’re in big fourth grade now) and meeting all the new minds I get to mold this year, I’m one exhausted, excited, and very happy teacher.

Dear New Teacher,

You’re doing great.

Did you realize you’re almost halfway through the first quarter of your year teaching?! Time certainly flies, and it only gets faster!

You might be sending home progress reports around this time and realizing that the honeymoon stage with the kiddos is over — yes, you will have to discipline them, regardless of how cute they are, and yes, you will have to be consistent. It isn’t always fun giving kids consistency like that, but I promise you that it’s always worth it in the end.

How are you feeling with your plans? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Drowning!? Here’s what you need to do: ASK FOR HELP. You are not stupid, you are not being ridiculous, just ask for help. People will help you. Did you get that? People will help you. They want to help you, so why won’t you let them? Don’t get in so deep and over your head that you can’t see the light anymore. That will do you no good and it will do your students much worse.

Please don’t stay at school too late. I spent my first two weeks teaching last year staying for about twelve hours every day and I called my dad every night crying. It was miserable. Don’t be like me. Get home, get relaxed, do something for yourself.

“But Allison! I can’t do that! I have lessons to write and papers to grade and progress reports to finish and…”

Stop.

If you can’t breathe, you can’t teach. If you can’t focus, how can you expect your kids to focus?! Prioritize. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Papers need to be graded? Papers can be graded anytime, anywhere. It’s okay. Go treat yourself to a nice pumpkin spice latte made with 2% milk with a little whipped cream and do your work at Starbucks for a bit. It’s okay to get out of your room, you know. Sometimes we need a change of scenery to get the productive juices flowing. Fresh air works wonders for the mind and body!

Can you do me another favor? I hope I’m not asking too much of you with this letter, but don’t beat yourself up over things. Crying is acceptable. It’s happened to everyone.

Did you hear me? EVERYONE. If you don’t believe me, go find a seasoned teacher in your school and ask him/her if he/she has ever cried over this job, I dare you — just be prepared to hear stories that might sound incredibly similar to the life you’re experiencing right now.

This profession chose you for a reason. Knowing this will lead to a revelation of sorts. Maybe a lightbulb goes off in your head as to how to work with that one child who is constantly defiant. Maybe you come up with this really engaging activity to teach your kids something they used to think was boring. Maybe you finally connect with that parent who wants to get her child help but doesn’t know how.

You know how.

You know what you’re doing. There will be people who might not think you do (yourself included sometimes), but be confident in yourself. Of course you need to learn new things — there are plenty of things that you weren’t trained for in your education program, and that’s okay. Teaching is best learned through experience, and you’ll be better for those experiences. Don’t doubt yourself so much. You went to college, got a degree, and are a teacher.

You. Are. A. Teacher.

Look at your badge. Look at your keys. Look at your classroom. Look at your students.

[You might also want to look at your living space. I have scissors and glue sticks on my coffee table with construction paper all over the living room — not to mention I smell like Ticonderoga pencils almost every day and almost always have marker on my hands.]

You are a teacher.

Be proud of that!

You probably spend more time with the kids in your classes than their parents and families get to spend with them. I mean, you are with these kids for seven hours from Monday to Friday. Love those kids. Respect those kids. Teach those kids not just how to read or how to find the slope of a line; teach those kids how to be good people, responsible citizens, and caring human beings. You have that power, so why not use it to better the world?

Your job is important. It doesn’t always feel that way (especially after Christmas break when there isn’t another break in sight for months until spring break — that stretch from MLK Day in January to the end of March/beginning of April is a SERIOUS struggle for us all) and your kids probably won’t tell you enough, but you rock. Keep doing you, New Teacher!

You might be like me and really want your kids to like you. I never wanted my kids going home and telling their families, “Oh my gosh, I HATE Miss Stewart’s class, it’s SO BORING.” That’s basically my worst nightmare and personal hell. Having students like you shouldn’t be the goal — you want them to respect you. With that respect comes so much love, my new teacher friends! If you show them that you respect them and can listen to them, their love for you will compound so quickly. Strict doesn’t mean boring — it just means you get the work done before you let loose. You can have fun teaching, and your students can have fun learning. Facilitate accordingly.

When you reach this blissful state of respect and love (which, this isn’t always an easy path since you need to crack down on your rules for quite a while before they really understand that you’re doing this because you love them), they will start making you things. Maybe they’ve already started because you’re a cute new teacher who is young and excited and kind of looks like their babysitter (I say this not to offend you, but to be honest — apparently I still look 16 to some of my kids). Keep those things. I guess you don’t have to keep every single thing because I don’t want to turn on the television and see you on an episode of Hoarders, but keep the things that remind you that what you do is of great importance. I have a folder that I pull out from time to time to remind me — it’s full of letters and pictures and cards. Keep those things, because you will need them on bad days and I can assure you that they will mend your weary soul around Thanksgiving.

I write this to you to encourage you. You’re only halfway done with quarter one and I know you’ve been working so hard to make things perfect for your class. Know that imperfection is acceptable and you have to let yourself make mistakes before you can learn.

Yes, you will implement lessons that will TANK. Completely. I have done that more than once to say the least. But guess what? I learned from that and now I know better than to assume third graders know what rounding is. We live and we learn.

Don’t lose your fervor. You’re in the right place. Teaching is the most challenging thing you’ll do, but it sure is the most rewarding.

Love, Miss Stewart

I’ve Got the Magic In Me.

Because you know this is what you thought of when you first saw this post:

So I’ve realized something in the last two weeks of my second year teaching. I suppose if I’m being completely honest though, I’ve realized more than just one “something,” but there’s one thing specifically that’s really been at the forefront of my mind lately.

I think I’ve realized one of the reasons why I love what I do so much.

There are truly so many reasons why I love being an elementary school teacher, and I could probably write a book about all those reasons (On the Other Side of the Desk to hit shelves at your neighborhood bookstore…one day). It’s amazing having the opportunity to shape a child’s life every single day; it’s wonderful knowing that I’m making a difference; Valentine’s Day alone is a reason in itself (potentially my favorite holiday with a flood of candy and hugs from these precious young people) — and these reasons are just scraping the surface!

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is seeing the faces on kids when I read to them.

When I was a kid I really enjoyed reading — I’m pretty sure I had One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish memorized by age two. I was reading the newspaper with my grandpa when I was in kindergarten, and we would make regular trips to the public library (followed by ice cream — what kid says no to any trip that involves ice cream?). I found my true love for fiction in fourth grade when my teacher read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my class; ever since then, I’m pretty sure I’ve devoured most of his books. I think I read every single Nancy Drew book in the Weddington Hills Elementary library, and I legitimately enjoyed doing book report projects throughout middle school (I was that weird kid who liked homework that you probably found annoying). My family instilled this importance of reading in my life at an early age, and to this day I still find it important.

I want to instill this love for reading and knowledge to the kids I teach.

It might sound kind of obvious that I, as a teacher, want to instill this in children, but I don’t think all teachers have this mindset. This year, after a few schedule changes, I am teaching third grade reading in English to three classes of tabula rasas. I have a whole year to get 60 students on board with this whole reading thing and to have them ready to take this End-of-Grade Test in May.

Challenge: Accepted.

If you asked me, getting a kid fired up about reading and prepared for any kind of reading assessment doesn’t start with “test prep.” It doesn’t start with forcing them to read certain things. It starts with a choice.

First, it is the choice of the students. With all of my classes, we’ve reviewed how to choose “good fit” books for ourselves. For those of you not part of the education world, this simply means you choose books that are juuust right for you (think Goldilocks and the Three Bears), meaning they are on your appropriate reading level. We used the IPICK system from The Daily Five, which has been incredibly fun and effective to teach to them (we’re using awesome total-physical-response movements with our words, and it’s simply incredible watching some of these kids who speak no English understand what we’re doing by going through those motions as part of the whole class). I explained to the kids that they get to choose the books that they check out in the library and put in their book boxes for right now (once I know their levels I can help them make sure they’re picking some on-level books that they can really access) and they just seemed floored by that!

Giving students choice isn’t the only thing that gets them pumped about reading — it’s also the teacher’s choice to be excited about reading. I know there are teachers out there who really aren’t crazy about reading. That’s okay if you aren’t crazy about reading — that’s okay if you have students who aren’t crazy about reading — but as teachers, we need to make sure that students aren’t completely turned OFF by reading. I have a student in my class who literally pretends to not know how to read because he hates reading so much. We don’t want to foster a classroom where behavior like that is appropriate, do we? Reading is such an integral part of our every day lives, and we encounter it far more than we think we do — it’s a teacher’s job to prepare students for how to succeed in the real world, and the truth of the matter is that reading is in everything.

I made the choice to get excited about reading. I mean, that’s all I’m teaching this year, so I had better be excited about it, right?! One of the first things I did with my classes last week was introduce them to my personal favorite book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I began reading it with one of my classes and the looks on their faces screamed joy in its purest form. There’s one little boy I have who just watches me like his life depends on it — he listens to me read and he watches me read and he is absolutely engrossed in the story. His eyes are bright and filled with sheer wonder about what words will spill out of my mouth next to create new images to match the story in his mind.

It’s magical. Reading to students is a magic of itself.

Every day the kids ask me to read to them. They know I’m stoked about reading, so they’re stoked about reading. I think there is true power in simply reading to students with no strings attached. I don’t think there always needs to be an “exit ticket” or a project to go along with a book — just let the kid listen. Let the kid read. Let him or her experience something that they can only touch through an author’s words. As an adult, I certainly have no exit tickets or projects to do about the books I choose to read. Instead, I have in-depth conversations about books and ideas with my peers — isn’t that more meaningful?

I love teaching third grade because I get to read to these kids and watch their eyes sparkle with every word from the page. I get to watch awestruck minds imagine a place so lovely as Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It’s the best job ever.

People say you can really tell the talent of a professional when you watch him or her doing what he or she does best. I go to a baseball game and watch a professional team play and I can see their skill by how many strike outs are pitched, how many runs are scored, how many plays were made. It’s kind of harder to do that with teaching I guess since there isn’t always one way to do something well. To me, I think read aloud abilities with children are just one mark of excellence for an elementary school teacher.

Last year, my class checked out and read the most books from the school’s library. I don’t know if the librarian at my new school keeps track of these things, but I would be thrilled if my classes out-read the rest of the school this year, too. I’m on a mission to get kids passionate about the magic that is reading, and I want so desperately for kids to realize how beautiful stories are. Hopefully they take this ever-so-eloquent advice from Roald Dahl:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

THE FIRST DAY.

Friends, I did it: I survived my first day of teaching.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (<– necessary)

So let me start out by saying that it’s not quite 11pm and I can’t wait to write this blog but at the same time I can’t wait to finish writing this blog because I AM SO TIRED. My legs hurt from being on my feet running around all day, my throat is a little sore from the massive amounts of reading books aloud and discussing group talk expectations (and hallway expectations and bathroom expectations and breathing expectations expectations expectations expectations), and I am just plum worn out. That’s how it’s supposed to be, though, right? I like to call this feeling “wonderfully exhausted” — I think it works nicely.

The day literally FLEW by. It was like the hour before the kids started coming into my room was gone in an instant. Before I knew it, I had 21 third graders in desks hanging on my every word. I read them Where the Wild Things Are and Miss Nelson Is Missing! during our literacy block. We had a little discussion about how we’re supposed to act in a group while talking. We reviewed every expectation imaginable. We practiced routines over and over and over and over (and we will do this tomorrow over and over and over as well) — I timed the kids to see how quickly and quietly they could get in line by numerical order and they ROCKED IT (25 seconds? I’m impressed). They’re really into being timed and beating their old record. I’m planning on totally using this to my every advantage throughout the school year. Also during our numerical line up practice, I alternated speaking in English and Spanish — the first time, I counted the line in English, the second time in Spanish, etc. When I counted in Spanish, every single Hispanic child’s eyes widened. I didn’t tell them that I spoke Spanish, and they were just giddy! I noticed that some of the kids aren’t really in to speaking Spanish and having Spanish be spoken around them, so I’m definitely trying to change that (taking steps to make bilingual learners in Durham, holla!). I love making that connection with the native Spanish speakers, though. It makes our relationship that much more special.

I think my favorite part of my day was first thing this morning when all the kids came in and were at their desks. I was very honest with them and I told them how indescribably excited I was for this moment — to have them all sitting in MY classroom (A28 REPPIN’), ready to learn. To see their sweet little faces focused on whatever we’re talking about at the time. I told them how happy I was they were here today and how much fun we’ll have during the year.

It was kind of like light bulbs went off in some minds, because their faces just lit up and their eyes gleamed. I tried my very hardest to convey my love for them, this deep love that I have for these kids on the first day of school.

I don’t think a lot of kids have ever had something like that said to them.

I want them to be so excited for school every day. I want them to be excited to learn. I truly believe that I can achieve this with these students, especially after the fantastic first day we had.

Literacy block was my other favorite — we talked about the different ways to read a book and how to “go back and check your understanding” and things of the like. Their faces during the read alouds were absolutely priceless, I wish I had a nanny cam in there so I could show you. We also practiced “Read to Self” (RTS) which is part of The Daily 5 program (teacher friends, it’s awesome — use in conjunction to The CAFE Book and you’ll be so set for literacy instruction!). Part of this RTS concept is to build stamina so kids can be sure they can read and comprehend for extended periods of time. The book/program says to start out this process with three minute increments — students should really be reading this whole time, not losing focus. They say if you see a student lose focus in those three minutes, stop time and start over.

Well. My kids read for those three minutes. Every. Single. One.

I seriously almost cried when I saw all of the kids digging around in their book boxes, pulling out books, reading. It was so magical.

At the end of the day I gathered us all on the carpet and asked everyone to say what their favorite part of their first day of third grade was, and most of the kids said reading! Some said recess, some said other random things, but MOST OF THEM SAID READING. Do you know how exciting that is for a teacher who is passionate about literacy? MY KIDS LIKE TO READ. THEY THINK IT’S FUN. WINNING.

It was a really long day and I didn’t get home until around 8pm. I didn’t want to make dinner (I seriously think I am bound to lose weight now that I’m a teacher — between not wanting to cook anymore, never having time to finish lunch, and consuming caffeine on a daily basis, I think I’ve found the best diet ever), but fortunately my roommate had soup prepared and she was willing to share (she’s the best). I sat down and started processing my day and couldn’t help but think that it was really the perfect first day. Yeah, there were a couple hiccups — one of my kids got on the wrong bus, we had slow transitions, there are definitely always things to work on — but in those hiccups there was perfection.

As I finished revising my plans for tomorrow, I checked my email one last time before signing out. This was in my inbox from a parent of a new student from out of state:

Just want to let you know that KR told me her first day of school was great and that she LOVES her teacher. Thank you!

Well, if that doesn’t make my day worth it, I don’t know what will.

Am I crazy for being really excited about tomorrow, too?