I recently read a blog post written by a mother, sharing how frustrating some days can be. I related to this post not as a mother, but as a teacher. It’s easy to get caught up in things that can suck the energy out of our teaching – the trainings that often don’t directly relate to the work we do with our students, the new mandates and requirements that are handed out, the lack of planning time, the lack of support from our administration, colleagues, (or even our nation), the slow response of systems that are supposedly in place to help our kids, the constant addition of things we must do, the lack of time to do these things, the endless assessments, the constant raising of the bar, the negative perception of how we do our jobs and how we all just need to work harder/better/faster. It can be exhausting.
When I find myself getting sucked into this frustration, I have to stop and get grounded again. It’s not all about my day and my huge to-do list and my deadlines, benchmarks and expectations. It’s about the kids. It’s about being present and in the moment. It’s about listening.
Our children come to us each day to learn, to grow, to have fun. To laugh, to explore, to be in awe of something. To discover things for the first time, to have that “a-ha” moment, to change perspectives, to open their eyes to a new way of thinking, to find a passion. It’s their day, too.
Some of my best days of teaching look nothing like what’s on the lesson plan. They come from listening to my kids, following their lead, and remembering why I am a teacher. Some days the lesson plans and assessments need to be pushed aside and I need to sit down with my kids while they explore worms in a nature box. I need to be there to help them find a worm book in the class library and listen as they wonder and investigate the worms crawling on their hands. I need to laugh with them, wonder with them and encourage them. I need to run to the art room for paper to cover our play stand because they decided a gingerbread house needs to be built today. Not next week, but NOW. Because NOW is where five year olds live. I need to stand back as they gather all the gingerbread men books we’ve read to decide what characters they should make to put inside the gingerbread house. I need to listen and be responsive to what they need.
Because it’s their day, too.