All week, I have been meaning to write a blog post about the fact that my summer break is over and that I have gone back to school and as of this past Wednesday, I am officially back to being a fifth grade teacher in action.
Oh...back to school. There is much to be said about it, though I imagine that you could all infer all that I have to say. The overriding theme of this past week has been exhaustion. Going back to work, after a nice and relaxed summer, is always exhausting in addition to being exciting and adventurous and all those other good things.
What is different about this school year, is that I am going back to school as a mom for the first time. I just took a moment to read my blog post from this time last year. Wow! What a difference a year makes. Last year, I was thankful to be heading back to school because I had an entire summer to just sit around and think (and worry) about the adoption process. I remember it being an entire summer of worrying about when we would be chosen. Last year, I was sure that we would never be chosen and that our baby would never find us. Last year, I was certain that another school year (or two) were certain to go by before Carla and I got to call ourselves moms. How very wrong I was.
This year, I am going back to school after spending an entire summer with little Millie and as a family of three. Needless to say, it was a lot harder to go back to work this year than last year. But, the inevitable arrived. The first day of school. While getting back in the groove of the school year has been exhausting, there have been many good things to help make the transition a little less painful.
The most exciting part of going back to school this year has been the new role that I will be playing at school. As you might have gathered by now, in general, I despise change. I don't like change, I don't like adjusting to change, mostly I live my life hoping that things will remain comfortable predictable. However, after teaching fifth grade for nine years, I was ready for some sort of change. But I didn't want to change schools and I didn't want to change grade levels (I know, it doesn't seem like I have left much room for anything different). What I did change was what I would be teaching in fifth grade. This year, I will be sharing two classes full of fifth graders. I will be seeing one class in the morning and a second class in the afternoon. I will only be teaching literacy this year. Teaching literacy has always been my absolute favorite part of my job. I love bringing the love of reading and writing to my fifth graders and I love watching the transformations that take place. So that is what I will be focusing on this year and I am thrilled. My fellow fifth grade teacher will be taking the kids the other half of the day and teaching them science, social studies and math (my least favorite of all subjects to teach).
While we are both thrilled with the change and with the possibilities that the change will bring, it has definitely been an adjustment. We are now faced with the task of connecting with twice as many students. For me, and for so many of us teachers, building relationships with our students is EVERYTHING. Without them, the important work that we have to do is just not possible. If our students aren't convinced that we are on their side, then we will face resistance every time we want to push them just a bit outside of their comfort zone to the place where all the good learning really happens. If our students aren't convinced that we show up every day because we love them and want to help them to be the very best version of themselves then they won't be willing to trust us when we ask them to do something they would really rather not do. So, yes, the relationships are important. As I said, they are everything.
This year, there are twice as many relationships to build and that has been tough. I try to remember that it always takes time and so this year it will take twice as much time and I must be patient.
And in addition to having two classes instead of one, this is the first year that I am attempting to build these relationships while also saving energy for my Millie. It is new and somewhat challenging to figure out, but like everything else that comes along with Millie, it is so so very much worth it.
Besides the changes at school, it is good to be back with my coworkers, many of whom feel more like family than like collegues. It is good to be back doing what I love. And after a summer of trying to figure out how to be a first time mom, it is good to be back at school where I get to do something that I have already been figuring out for over ten years. There is comfort in stepping back into the classroom and I am happy to be back in that comfort.
So as this school year begins, it is incredible to look back at where I was a year ago and equally incredible to think about where I will be a year from now. So much growing takes places over the course of a school year. Yes, it is incredible to see the growth in my students, but it is also incredible when I am able to see the growth in myself as well.