Here we are winding down what many educators are saying was “the craziest school year yet!” And as much as we wish we could put this school year behind us and focus on a fresh start in August, we would be remiss if we didn’t take time for reflection. So that’s just what we’re going to do today. Journal along with us so you have your thoughts documented to learn and grow from.
Back to School…
Think back to last August (2021) when the uncertainty was in the air about what school would look like this year. What feelings came up for you?
Guilt - You love teaching and helping students reach their potential, but the thought of putting yourself and your family at risk of Covid made you not want to teach. Was the risk of bringing this home because our primary students still could not be vaccinated worth your family’s health and safety?
This emotion rang so very true for me! I had a student who tested positive, but I was not notified until the work needed to be sent home. Beyond that, the families of the students in our classroom were never made aware of this which infuriated me. Luckily, the student was back to school in ten days and none of us contracted the virus.
Nervous - Were you nervous because here we were gearing up to be back in person with our students, but that thought of another shutdown was always lurking in the back of our minds.
Relieved - Did you feel relieved that we could finally return to in-person learning and not have to balance online learners too. There were still the challenges of keeping all of the students safe and cleaning like crazy, but it was going to be so much better!
Fall of 2021…
Try to remember last fall and what student behavior looked like, not just in your classroom or school, but across the country. We saw behaviors like never before which meant plenty more time was being spent on classroom management.
SEL - Student emotions became the forefront of most primary classrooms because many of these students have not been to school before. The curriculum had to be put on hold so we could help our students regulate their emotions and express them appropriately.
The anger and aggressiveness hit new heights this school year which left many of us wondering how much more we could handle. And yet, we continued to handle it!
Personally, after being in education for 19 years with never having experienced a student become aggressive towards me, this year I had students hit me, push me, kick me, and bite me. I promise you that I definitely questioned why I was putting myself through this each day.
The truth is, the joy the students bring far outweighs the aggression that arises. This does not mean that we should accept this behavior, but it helps in understanding why we continue to show up.
Winter of 2021-2022
If you recall the weeks leading up to winter break and the weeks to follow, Covid cases were on the rise and it hit the schools BIG time. Many schools struggled to find subs because there simply weren’t enough subs to go around. Did your school experience this? How were you feeling when this happened?
Frustrated - Will this virus ever go away? Is there ever going to be a year where we won’t be worrying about quarantining? Here we are as primary educators, still putting our health at risk because our students have just now become eligible for the vaccine.
Anger - Student behavior is still out of control across the board. For some reason, our students think they can yell at their teacher and it is acceptable. Nope! Not today and not EVER! We have to find our innermost strength to calm the student and guide him/her through a calm down process.
If the behavior escalated too much, then you had to send the student to the office simply because of the safety of your other students. You only used this as a last resort because you have strong classroom management and should be able to handle this situation.
Overwhelm - You were now preparing for that next round of testing to measure growth and you know that you haven’t covered nearly enough curriculum for these students to be on grade level. You spent so much time in the fall reviewing and catching students up, that you are just now digging into grade-level material.
Why anyone thought that after over a year of non-traditional educational practices, it was a good idea to continue on with the curriculum like nothing happened is far beyond me.
Spring of 2022…
Remember that first warm day in March? The birds were chirping and the sun seemed to shine brighter than ever. Spring has arrived and we are ready for it! Try to get yourself to think back to March and allow yourself to notice what feelings come up. What does this look like for you?
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t think I’m going to make it! The behavior continues to go through the roof and on top of that, I now have to prepare for my formal teacher observation. What? How much more can I possibly handle?
But guess what? You handled it! You did the best you could each and every day and showed up for your students. Just by doing that, you are an incredible human being!
End of the school year…
You are literally two weeks away from the end of the school year! Nine more wakeups and you’ll be coasting into summer vacation. However, now even your “good” kids are starting to act up. What happened? You question whether it is even worth discipline because the end is so close (the answer is ALWAYS yes because believe it not things can get worse.)
And finally, it is the last day of school! You are so excited that this day can’t go fast enough. Awards, snacks, and a movie and now it’s time to say goodbye.
Wait. What’s happening? This is supposed to be the happiest day of the school year. I did it! I made it through the school year and these students are moving on to the next grade.
But why do I feel so…so…sad? This was the absolute hardest year of my career and my heart is sad because this is the last time our school family is going to be together. These are my kids and I poured my heart and soul into them. Now, I have only a couple of hours left with them to make those final last impressions. Did I teach them enough? Are they going to remember their letter sounds next year? Maybe we need to sing our Days of the Week song one more time?
And now you’re here. You are here reading this post reminiscing about the year and reflecting on how much you grew as a teacher. You know that those students were meant to be instilled in your care this past year. You know that you did everything you could to help them learn and grow. And because of you, they will!
Right now, celebrate your wins no matter how big or how small! Celebrate all that you learned about yourself as an educator. Celebrate all of the fears and uncertainty that you conquered. You did it! Journal about that now.
Remember this year as the year you found your strength. Remember the love that you had for each and every one of those students even when they pushed you to your breaking point. Those are the students and moments in our classrooms that need us the most.
You were made to teach and are going to impact hundreds of lives. Live your best teacher life not in fear of the unknown, but in the knowledge that you are making a difference!
Cheers to summer vacation, lazy days, and time with family. You earned it.
Did you know…
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If you enjoyed this post…
If you enjoyed this post, then you’ll want to read this because about managing parents in the 21st-century.
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Until next week…