Hey, teacher, paraprofessional, principal, administrative assistant, social worker, speech pathologist, substitute, specialist and every every other 408 job representations in a school building.
It’s almost noon on Sunday and I am still in my pajamas sipping from a mug of coffee.
Tomorrow at this time, I will have seen over 85 students, 3 different classes, and will probably even be in real clothes, potentially even with my hair done and not slicked back in a messy ponytail. #ambitious
It seems a little daunting. I don’t even remember how to pack a lunch. Do I really shape young lives for a living?
After two blissful weeks of vacation, holiday and family time, and lots, lots more sleep than I am used to, the thought of walking into my classroom tomorrow, flipping on those lights and welcoming little bodies into my room is enough to make me crawl back into bed.
I can count the number of times I have worn makeup during this break on one hand. I didn’t use my teacher voice. I didn’t hear “Ms. Wiley” at all, and I didn’t touch a lesson plan.
I watched 17 episodes of “Lock up: Women behind Bars” on Netflix and didn’t set an alarm when I went to bed #lifeontheedge.
I got a flat tire late in the evening, but didn’t have to stress out because it wasn’t a “school night” and I hadn’t set an unrealistic bedtime for myself.
It was wonderful.
But it’s not what I was born to do.
I’m a teacher, and these breaks are absolutely necessary and totally key in our mental, physical and emotional health, but now it’s time to go back.
It’s time to walk back into your classroom and do what you love to do.
Because you do love it.
At the core of what teaching is, you love it.
At the beginning of the year, we are sun-kissed and fully rejuvenated. In September, after a long summer break, our classrooms are organized and our outfits are picked out and that “new school year buzz” circulates around the building.
Heading back to work after Winter Break is a whole different ballgame.
We face the dreaded winter months. The Holidays are over and the only visions dancing in our head are hopes for a snow day…or six.
But still, we press on. It’s time to go back to work.
You see, teacher, you have a high and holy calling on your life.
Through all of the turmoil in the education system, through every long day and working lunch, one thing makes it worth it for me every time: the faces.
Forget about the “extras” for a second with me.
Just picture the faces.
The ones of kiddos that even though they wouldn’t admit it, cannot wait to see you tomorrow and have spent break feeling alone and unloved.
The ones that have made you those drawings of unidentified objects on ripped out pieces of lined paper and check back a week later to see if you still have it.
Think of the face of the student that needs an excessive amount of hugs every day because she doesn’t get any at home.
Picture the face of the studious, high achieving student that lives and breathes for school.
Remember what it feels like to read the words of a letter a student wrote you, telling you how much you mean to him/her and how you’re their favorite teacher (who cares if they say it to their teacher every year. It’s your year).
Picture the crocodile tears of a student who can’t handle his emotions and just needs to cry to you because he can’t find his lunch card.
Envision the look a student has on his face when he finally grasps something he has been struggling with for months.
Just for a second, forget about the “other stuff” with me.
Just for today, focus on the faces. The faces of those little, or big, kiddos that you are entrusted with this year.
You mean the world to them. The calling on your life right now is to walk back into your second home, your classroom, and love and teach those kids with everything in you.
It’s exhausting and the days are long. You might go in when the sun hasn’t even risen and go home long after it’s gone down, but you put in those hours because of one reason: love.
Like it or not, school starts again tomorrow, and if I have learned one lesson from my short 5 years of teaching, it is that attitude is everything. I have had days I taught with a horrible attitude, and days I taught with a fantastic attitude.
I bet you can guess which days went well.
Tomorrow we will be tempted to complain to each other about how break was too short and we aren’t ready to be back.
Of course we will miss family time and sleep and being a normal-functioning human, but instead of feeling a little bit of dread or uneasiness about going back tomorrow, let’s face it with excitement.
It’s not a new school year, but it’s a new year. A new start. No matter how the first part of your year went, this is an opportunity to have a fresh slate and begin again.
We will spend the next few months zipping up coats, tying shoelaces (sometimes wet shoelaces), helping kids find their mittens, giving directions to change from their boots to their gym shoes, counseling friend problems, taking patient breaths when a student says
“I have a connection…” and oh yeah, teaching.
Remember your calling. Embrace it.
And if all else fails, text me your coffee order. I do deliveries.
Go change some lives tomorrow. Maybe there will even be a few straggler presents that they forgot to give you before break #dreambigforgiftcards.
We will start the Spring Break Countdown in February and I will hit you with another post for the homestretch 😉
And if you need just a LITTLE bit more of a reminder why you should get up tomorrow, check out 11 Reasons Teaching is the BEST! You haven’t lived until you have been told you look like a burnt hotdog.
Teach on, Teacher Friend. Start tomorrow with a dance party.
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Third graders know exactly how to write encouragement cards.