Good Lord, people. It is week 6 of school, Homecoming week, and it was 85 degrees today on October 1. In Michigan. With no air conditioning. Did I mention it was Homecoming week? Yesterday was pajama day. Have you ever tried to TEACH 31 9th graders while all of them are wearing pajamas (and YOU are wearing pajamas?)? Of course you have. If you hadn’t you wouldn’t even be reading this blog post. Are you seeing my black socks and sandals? It is “Tourist Day” today for Spirit Week. I rocked it. Rocked out with my black socks out!
Let me tell you something. I LOVE being a teacher. I LOVE my students. But I came home from work yesterday feeling STRESSED. You can ask my husband. I came home with a thunder cloud following me and I isolated myself with some chocolate until such a time as it was acceptable to open a bottle of wine. What happened, you ask? (**Anxious whispers** What happened to make Kristy so stressed out? We thought she was a pretty good teacher. I mean, after all she presents at CONFERENCES! I saw her on a WEBINAR! She knows what she is doing! If she is stressed how am I ever going to survive!?) You want to know what happened? Nothing happened. It was non-descript. What happened was kids were excited, dramatic, happy, unfocused, hyper, and just being KIDS! It was extra effort all day long to get them to listen and do things. It drained me. My husband said “How was your day?” and I said “Soul sucking.” At first he assumed our son had done something (well, he is one of my students, but he was no more problematic than the others!), but I assured him it wasn’t our kiddo’s fault. He said “So, what happened?” And I had no answer…nothing happened. It was just a hard day. No referrals to write, just a feeling of being a complete failure at classroom management and overwhelmed at the thought of having to invent some kind of solution.
I went in today fully expecting it to be more of the same. My hearing aid battery died and I had no replacements at school, my son couldn’t find his tennis jersey, which led to him forgetting to grab lunch…UGH! Stressed before 7am! Well, I went and taught 1st hour Spanish 3 (and had an observer which was fine but always adds a little edge to any existing stress). It was fine. Not perfect but fine. We tried Charlala.com for the first time. They drew pictures of phrases from Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos and guessed what the pictures represented. It was pretty fun. Then it was 2nd hour, my prep. My husband found the tennis shirt, and brought the battery and the lunch and the shirt up to school (my hero!). I decided I needed a plan. And I had 50 minutes to create it.
I decided my level 2 kiddos could work independently. I had a Chromebook cart available. I put their Song of the Week’s music video on EdPuzzle. I found an EdPuzzle I made last year which was a review of some stories we’ve been working on lately in class. I gave them 2 Quizlet sets to study or play games with. I gave them a familiar story to draw a cartoon of. And I told them if they worked very quietly and independently all hour they could have the last 5 minutes free to socialize. Well, guess what? They did it. It wasn’t a perfect or inspiring lesson, but it gave me a break and they still had some good input. I put up my black-sock-and-Birkenstock-clad feet and relaxed! I organized my class binder so my students who have students jobs could function more independently.
And guess what? I felt so good at the end of the day today. It wasn’t my best day ever. But it was FINE. My students got some input, and I got a mental vacation. I came home feeling good! The beginning of the year is SO HARD. Especially when you teach lower levels. It was so great to just have a little time to not have to interact intensively and be the focus of the group. It reminded me that now we are 6 weeks in to the school year and it is ok for me to step off the stage. I can build in times throughout the day for a little breather. And every once in a while, I can find some less intense ways of delivering a lesson that is just FINE.
My friend Darcy Pippins frequently refers to teaching as “making the donuts.” She and I have commiserated over the daily demands of being a REAL teacher. Don’t think just because someone presents at a conference or writes a book or sells lessons on TPT that they make beautiful donuts all the time. Making the donuts day in and day out is not easy. It is demanding, emotional work. Don’t ever let anyone shame you for taking time for your mental health or for cutting a corner to make your life easier. Not every donut gets the glaze. You can’t make donuts perfectly every single day. Sometimes they are misshapen, overcooked, or just plain ugly. Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Happy Thursday, friends!
Did you miss this week’s Tuesday Tip on @FluencyMatters Instagram? It was another way to help you put your feet up and feel fine! Check it out!