Finally, it was Friday, and the end of the first week of school. Thursday, I walked over 15,000 steps and ate too much junk food. Is your staff lounge as overflowing with carby foods as ours is the first week of school? (Wait… who am I kidding, there are ridiculous amounts of food in there all year!) It is so hard for me to admit, but I decided to be raw with my emotions with this post. I fully admit that I am beyond stressed right now, and it’s a Friday. My classroom isn’t ready; the walls are bare and there are books that need to be put away. I have data to analyze, students to test, and what feels like a million things to do. I fell asleep on the couch at 6:45 on Tuesday night. I’m diligent about reading and responding to emails quickly, but right now I have 47 unread emails. I miss my couch, my afternoon naps, and going to the grocery store on a Thursday morning just because I can.
I sat in my classroom yesterday and cried ugly tears of frustration. I just want to have my classroom ready. The blank walls are making me sad.
I want to have routines and expectations learned, to be working with kids, to have a solid routine, and to feel good about having built a strong classroom community. I want to see growth and experience that feeling of knowing kids are “getting it”! I don’t want to feel like I’m behind with a mounting to-do list that feels like I’m taking one step forward two steps back. I know that with time the current to-do list will get done, and all of the things I want will happen. Logical Me knows this, but Emotional Me feels the anxiety that goes along with knowing there is still so much to do to get there.
My principal is an avid hiker and likes to use the analogy of hiking when talking about a school year. Together as a staff we “climb a mountain” each year, reaching the summit on the last day of school. She and I talked about this yesterday, and I was reminded that in this year-long mountain climb, right now at the end of week one we are metaphorically just getting out of the car and tying our shoes. We’re beginning to apply sunscreen and are searching for the map. The first steps up the mountain haven’t even been taken yet! It’s ok to feel frustrated, and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed because we are all experiencing this, even the kids. It is ok to understand, embrace, and accept that change is hard. Though it’s change I was looking for, it’s still a transition of routines. This year I have taken on new responsibilities, teaching online classes for Arizona State University and serving as a Lead Teacher for three Teacher Candidates in a 5thgrade ELA classroom. Going from having little to do to being overly busy, along with the added responsibilities I have taken on this year, are leaving me feeling a bit overwhelmed.
I do want to point out that this week hasn’t just been about feeling frustrated. The joys that come with working with children far outweigh the frustrations, and this week has been no exception to that! I have also laughed and smiled so much since we started back on Monday. Is there anything better than seeing a child light up when they see you from across campus? Or when they call your name with excitement and joy? I can’t count how many high fives and smiles I’ve gotten. My heart is full! And let’s not forget the fresh feeling of a new school year-- crisp new clothes and piles of brand-new school supplies, as well as a renewed excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead! I mean really… is there anything better than new school supplies?
As I head out the door to start this first weekend of the year, I am excited to have an opportunity to regroup and recharge. I’ll probably fall asleep on the couch again tonight at a ridiculously early hour, but that’s ok. I’ll be ready to hit the ground running Monday morning with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.
Standing at the base of the mountain with my shoes tied and my sunscreen on, I know that this hike will be a good one. It will have its challenges, but ultimately when I stand at the top of that mountain and look down, I’ll do so with pride.
I hope your year starts well and your climb to the summit is grand!
Have you started back to school yet? What challenges are you facing? How are you coping with the emotional readiness?
Jessica Button is a fourth generation teacher, having been preceded in teaching by a great grandmother, both grandmothers, and her mother. She earned her B.A. in Education in 2006, and her Masters in Reading Education in 2010, both from Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils!). She has been teaching at her current school since 2007, and has taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. She was hired as her school’s Reading Specialist in 2016, and currently teaches READ 180 Universal Stage A to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. Jessica strives to help others achieve their dreams of becoming teachers, working as an Associate Professor for Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, and also serving as a mentor to Teacher Candidates. She is passionate about building relationships with students, and greatly enjoys helping them unearth their strengths and learn to find reading fun! In her spare time, she loves to read, hike, cook, and spending time with her family and friends.