With back to school looming, I needed a shot of positivity. Thankfully, I took part in Twitter #satchat this morning, and that made the difference. Positivity is something that's often the first to go in the stressful world of teaching and learning, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone. So today, I'm turning the negatives to positives.
Negative: I was a lazy slob over the entire break.
Positive: That's okay. I'm recharged. I can throw myself back into the ring whole-heartedly now that I've had an actual, complete break.
Negative: After ignoring student papers all through break, I started reading and responding yesterday. I was disheartened at how terrible my seventh graders' writing seemed after reading for pleasure all break. I was frustrated. Yes, this is their low-stakes weekly writing, but a lot of it was not good.
Positive: My eighth graders low-stakes weekly writings were generally excellent. Moving, thoughtful, detailed, expressive. Are the eighth graders just so much better than seventh graders? No. Yes, they're better writers. That's because they have more experience, more practice. That's because I've actually taught them something! My seventh graders will get there eventually. The problem with having both grades is that I'm too quick to compare them. It's not fair. Instead of focusing on where I wish the seventh graders were, I need to remind myself of how amazingly far they will go.
Negative: I did not accomplish any of the lofty goals I set for myself over break. (See first negative.)
Positive: I work better under pressure. The pressure of school makes me more productive and thoughtful in my choices. Two weeks of slacking off will not make me a terrible teacher, just as two weeks of hitting it hard would not have made me Mrs. Perfect Teacher 2015. I'm an evolving educator. Sometimes it comes in bursts, sometimes the pace is glacial. I'll make up for it and be better in the end.
Negative: My constant worry: I am not doing enough to reach all of my students. There are so many and there is too little of me. Some will hate me and my class no matter what.
Positive: I can keep trying. I can always keep trying. It might not work, but sometimes it does, spectacularly. The girls below are sophomores in high school. They painted this ceiling tile of my favorite book-loving cat, Pusheen, as a Christmas present to me. I reached them years ago, and they are still reaching for me even though I am no longer their teacher.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.