It’s almost the end of May, and every teacher knows what that feels like. It’s like my computer looks right now…I’ve got seven tabs open, and I’m bouncing back and forth between catching up on reading emails about field trip planning, the Social 7 curriculum, twitter, and trying to write this blog since I didn’t do one on the long weekend and felt guilty, and I’m going to be in Regina this next Sunday so the odds are against getting one written that day too.
Yep. Something like that.
There are so many things competing for our time and energy and attention. And that’s before we factor the kids in!
So when successes happen, you hang on to them.
Cling to them.
Today had a few of those moments, which is almost statistically impossible when you teach middle years. So bear with me for sharing!
The first was in my period 1 split class of grade 7 and 8. It was a beautiful morning and I haven’t done as much with the walking classroom philosophy recently as I’ve wanted. So we walked to downtown Delisle (yep, there is one!) to a lot with some benches, rocks, and old farm equipment, where the town sets up seasonal displays.
Before we left the classroom, I described our activity. I often explain how we differentiate activities between the two groups, as the 8s don’t like to do EXACTLY what the 7s are doing all the time. So I explained how the ELA 8 course asks us to work on describing a landscape whereas the ELA 7 one suggests describing a character, but that today we were all just going to go out and describe a scene. Surprisingly, it was one of the 7 boys that wasn’t happy with that arrangement and said, “But that’s not our curriculum!”
I lol’d a little bit to hear a student use the word ‘curriculum’ but it got even better when I explained that the 8’s were staying out for the second hour for Social Studies to take pictures of private and public businesses, and the 7s would come back to the classroom. The same boy piped up that they should get to stay out too, and I got to use his line: “But that’s not in your curriculum!” We did a quickwrite before we left, and despite his grumbling, this student called me over to say, "Mrs. Landry, this is the most I've written this year!" Small victories.
Our time outside was awesome. We worked on our descriptive writing out there with all the sights and sounds of a small town on a double lane highway. At one point, one of the students said, “We should be out here everyday.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The second success happened in the afternoon. My Arts Ed 7 students are working on small passion projects in their choice of music, art, drama, or dance that we plan to perform in a few weeks. One boy brought in his electric guitar that he wanted to learn how to play, but he didn’t know what to do, and it had never worked properly. So two days ago, a former student who now plays in his own band came by to look at it for him. He made some adjustments and fixed it right up.
That was a generous enough gesture for me to feel good about. But today it got even better. As I was helping my student find some youtube tutorials (I really suck at guitar!) I asked a grade 11 student to help out. I knew that this boy didn’t have a period 4 class, as he sometimes pops in to demonstrate something on the guitar or ukulele for the kids, and he gladly agreed. Knowing the two personalities, and their shared short attention spans, I wasn’t sure if it would last much more than a few minutes or a couple of riffs.
But when I introduced them, the older boy held out his hand for a handshake, and then they were off. At the end of the class, my student had already put his equipment away but stayed to grab a ukulele to show me what he had learned. He was proud and excited. When I asked if he’d be okay if the two of them kept working together, he said yes. (My inner voice? Yessss with a fist pump!) Small victories.
I also had a group of three girls who are working on a dance. They had come at the beginning of class wondering if it was possible to video their dance to present instead of doing it live. When I asked for more details, one of them said she didn’t want to perform. She’s a strong athlete, and not in dance like the other two. I broke out my usual Brene Brown pep talk about courage and vulnerability. But I also said that the feeling you get when you finally score a goal in hockey, happens every time when you finish a live performance. The rush of adrenaline, the faster heart rate, and the shaky hands all remind you that you’re alive and that you just did something really, really cool.
I also let them know that I would be performing too, but I just hadn’t decided how vulnerable I wanted to be yet! I can do music easily enough, drama with a little trepidation, but if I’m really going to practice what I preach, then I’m most vulnerable with dance. I said that it’s important for me to model what I’m asking them to do, so I’d be doing something for sure.
At that point, I got pulled into a half-hug.
People that know me….not a big hugger lol.
But it was when the student said, “That’s how a teacher should be!” that I think I got something in my eye. Small victories.
Like I said, it’s the end of May. You hang on to these moments.
You need them to balance the rest of the day out. Trust me. There’s a whole water-bottle story in there today too.
If I don’t manage to get back on here on Sunday, have a great weekend everyone. And with June around the corner, here’s a reminder that I totally stole from a friend’s timeline!
Remember, you are doing important work.
Heck, YOU are important,
simply being you.
On the days that life hits
you hard, remember this:
You are enough.
You are kind.
And you’ve got this.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy...okay website template!