We are halfway there.
Near equidistant from the first day of school to the last…
I still have beginning of the year “to dos” and aspirations hanging in limbo, waiting for a minute of my attention.
The pile of manila folders I placed on my cabinet in September still sits there.
I’ve been running on the binder creating, Google Drive organizing, classroom library reshuffling gerbil wheel all year.
And I think I forgot to tear off yesterday’s page on my daily desk calendar.
Today was a rainy day. In Wisconsin. In January.
Thunder and lightning, puddles and humidity.
Cloudy and gloomy.
And it felt like it.
It was one of those days where the air and the energy was heavy. District math testing. Indoor recess. Winding down reading and writing units. A student meltdown. It was a slow motion, going-through-the-motions sort of day for the kids and me, and I came home defeated and frustrated. Today lacked luster. Today was mundane. Today was mediocre. But it wasn’t without its joyful moments. To shake off the dust for tomorrow, I was determined to consciously remember and recognize those highlights. Closing my eyes and thinking back on my day, I realized it wasn’t too difficult to name the good in our day.
Andrew brought in his Spirograph tracers to share with his friends during our morning “Spark & Shine” soft start choice time. Kaylah wrote a heartfelt dedication to her dog in the informational book she is writing on how to raise a puppy. Amir jumped into a new favorite series to push himself as a reader. Akilah finished the third book in her series, the most of a series she’s ever read before. Elijah said, “Have a great lunch Mrs. Werner!” on the way out the door. We all laughed during our end of day read aloud. And that’s just what came to mind right away.
This got me thinking…we all have our highs and lows during the school year, but as educators, we often sell ourselves short considering all that we have taught and facilitated with our students. We get stuck on what we have yet to accomplish, the unmemorable days, and the unsuccessful teaching moments we have experienced, that we leave little time to reflect on all that is good and joyful and celebratory in our classrooms. In the mood to make lists and at an appropriate point in the year to be more deeply reflective, I challenged myself to jot down the first ten moments that came to mind that were unforgettable, heartwarming, profound, and positive. Just ten! I was hoping I would prove to myself that even on this gray day, there is, and has been, so much to celebrate.
- Getting emails from parents elated that their children are for the first time excited about reading and choosing to read on their own for pleasure in their spare time.
- “Hey, he looks just like me!” said Marius, an African American student upon seeing a childhood photo of Jason Reynolds in People magazine, after the author did a visit to our school. The power of mirrors.
- Twitter. Students tweeting at their favorite authors and receiving tweets back.
- Making Claymates inspired by Dev Petty’s and Lauren Eldridge’s book of the same name. Watching them come alive through student-created stop motion videos was awe-inspiring. Especially Dominic, who channeled his creative energy and ever moving body into unique and clever claymated narratives.
- Hiking in the fall with our kindergarten pals in the woods where we discovered the beauty of the natural world readying itself for winter…and a skull. An animal skull we brought back with us that turned into a spontaneous science lesson to identify it the next day. Armed with magnifying glasses, iPads, books, sketching tools, they wondered and sought to learn more.
- We are fresh off of Skype visits with authors Shelley Johannes and Debbi Michiko Florence, we are inspired by their advice and experience as writers. Connecting to authors in real time is magical.
- “I used to not like math, but this is fun!” And in related news, “Do we have to stop writing to go to recess?”
- Field trip to the Milwaukee Film Festival to see the children’s shorts program. Watching the kids’ reactions as much as the films themselves, I witnessed laughter, tears, wonder, and surprise across their faces.
- The day we finished reading Stone Fox together. You know the part. Pass the tissues. And a hug.
- Kalani found her heritage in Jasmine Toguchi Mochi Queen, which turned her into a book lover and frequent snail mailer and Twitter pen pal with the author.
Wait! That’s ten already?! But I have eleven and more! It may still be dreary outside, but the gray cloud is lifting from my day. Now, I challenge you to do the same. Pause during your day. In your mind, on paper, in a doc, wherever, what ten moments come to mind that showcases the awesome in your school year? Instead of thinking about counting down the days, let’s look back at how far we’ve come. We’ve built communities, class families, and made an impact on our children.
We are not halfway there.
We are halfway here.
Share your #JustTen moments in the comments below or on social media with #ClassroomCommunities!
*All names have been changed to protect students’ privacy.