Okay, maybe not popular demand, but back by the convincing words of a few.
I will be honest, I went through a phase of internal debate when it came to “blogging”. At first, I loved the idea of sharing my thoughts and experiences with my family, friends, colleagues and any strangers that happened to stumble (see what I did there those of you in the 25-30 age range — how many hours a day in college did we waste Stumbling online) upon what I have to say. Then, I hit this point of worry and doubt — did anyone really care what I had to say? Do people just think I am trying to make myself look good? What are my short term and long term goals for writing? Do I even have any or am I doing this for no purpose what so ever.
Needless to say, I still love the idea. My kids are too great to NOT share all the amazing things they do. I do have goals– maybe not be willing and ready to share them with the whole world yet, but they are there! Those who truly know my heart, know that I am not the “self promoting type” and have never really been good at “taking a compliment”. I can be flooded with self-doubt, with nervousness, with the fear of disappointing others, even though I promise, I do have self-confidence and determination in what I do! While I try to do better in those avenues, it is still a place for growth and development, and I do not think that is a horrible thing!
When it comes to my “day to day” job as a teacher, sure there are days when that bell rings and a sigh of relief overcomes me. Even on these days, 99.9% of the time, I can think of a student or a moment that brought me joy, happiness or amazement. These moments ALWAYS surround the compassion, giving, growth, achievement or perseverance my students have shown. The students in my building are nothing short of amazing, and this CAN NOT be attributed to a ‘just me’ mentality. This has EVERYTHING to do with who they are in their hearts– deep to their core. This has EVERYTHING to do with the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and siblings who love them. This has EVERYTHING to do with the phenomenally dedicated staff these kiddos have had willing to do ANYTHING for them since the minute they step into our building. My students are able to accomplish and succeed in 5th and 6th grade because of EVERYTHING they have been taught and learned prior to stepping into my classroom — it is why they can even begin to attempt the tasks and projects I place before them. I am forever grateful for their educational past, even if it is not a perfect picture.
The week leading up to winter break is always one of those love/hate relationship types. As teachers, we are looking forward to “break” (yes, I know most of us are still grading and planning– I am with ya, 7:00 is definitely sleeping in though), but we know the inevitable chaos the days before break have in store. Every year, I am amazed at how much I learn during this time. The holidays allow you to take something as simple as breakfast duty and let you see the true value behind that 20 minutes every morning. There are two brothers who are not in my classes (4th grader and kindergartner) who are either the first ones in the breakfast line, or the last ones because they are running really late. No matter if they are first or last, both of them ALWAYS look like they are still half asleep or sad. Now, this might not seem like a big deal because, duh its morning…but let me tell you, the kids in our building come in with ENERGY in the morning. No matter when they come in, no matter how tired they look, these two have a way to brighten my day, tug at my heart, fill me with love and make my day better. The kindergartner never fails to give me 2 or 3 hugs before he heads to class, tells me a story that I can not for the life of me determine where it originated from and ask for an extra juice or for help opening his milk. It wasn’t until 2 days before break I realized his older brother (too old for 2-3 hugs a morning, doesn’t need help opening his milk or finding an extra juice) cared just as much as I did. I meant something to him just as he did to me.
The 4th graders spent a portion of their day writing acrostic poems and in the middle of the day, I got hand delivered a “Mrs Rhodes” acrostic poem that brought tears to my eyes. My favorite line “Every morning gets me out of my zombie mood at breakfast with her smile.” I am not kidding you. I lost it. You read those quotes all over the place about how your smile can make a difference and all that jazz and at the risk of sounding like Buddy the Elf, smiling is my favorite. I love to smile, I love the way it makes me feel (even if sometimes its a bit fake) and I love the way it can make others feel or the way it can make people respond. Often times, my students ask me why I smile all the time (a question I have a difficult time answering sometimes because I teach at a public school — someone let me know how I can tell them “Because God is good, He loves us and His love is in us” without “crossing the line” and I will be overjoyed. In that moment, reading that poem I knew for sure my smile mattered. Relationships Matter.
My point overall (remember, I really didn’t want this to seem like it was ‘about me’) is that what we do matters. How we show love matters. Our students notice EVERYTHING. They notice the zip lock bag that is always full of sharpened pencils that they can have no questions asked, they notice the cleaned out desks (they might not realize it took you an hour after school to get them that way), they notice our smiles, they notice our frowns. They notice what we do. They notice us.
As we head into the 2018 school year, let’s give our students something loving, something positive and something genuine to notice. Each and every day.