Thursday, August 4, 2016

What's So Scary?

This quote was on my board at the start of the school year.

I'm scared.

Yeah...there, I said it.
Deep down inside it's probably something all of you teachers think.

What is it that makes me say this? Let me try and explain.

I'm starting my 18th year of teaching, it's only the beginning of August and that feeling is creeping in. I roll over in the middle of the night and my mind races. I start thinking of my classroom and what it's going to look like - what's going to wow the kids this year? I'm streaming a show on Netflix and I start thinking of the lessons that I'm going to be doing this year - are the kids going to be engaged every single day?

But what I really can't stop thinking about, what makes me lose the most sleep, what makes me the most anxious, nervous, the kids.

Last school year I made the move from 6th to 7th grade. I had been a 6th grade teacher for sixteen years and it was really all I knew and when I was told I'd be teaching 7th grade, there was much trepidation. Switching grade levels is something that's hard to explain to a person outside of the classroom, but I'd compare it to relocating to another state to do your job - same job, but there's just a different way of doing it.

Despite the move, the past school year turned out to be one of the best all-around teaching years of my career. I loved every minute of it. Moving up with the kids and being able to see them grow over two years was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. I developed relationships with those kids that will last a lifetime.

I approached each day with enthusiasm and excitement and continuously told the kids, "I only have 170 (whatever number we were at) days left with you! We have to make them count". This challenged me to make each day meaningful - to make each day something the kids would at least have the opportunity to remember. I knew I'd get to do 7th grade all over again, but these kids only had one shot at it. It turned out to be an incredible year. How do I know this - it ended with smiles and tears.

So what's so scary?

Knowing I have to be better than I was last year for these kids. I only have 185 days with them and I have to make each one count.