Do you ever feel like you have absolutely no idea how to do life? I woke up this morning in a state of panic. On a personal note, I've been dealing with some heavy stuff recently - stuff that has been hanging around for a little over two years. While most of the time I handle this all pretty well (at least I feel like I handle it well), this time around my heart is broken. I have been trying my hardest to leave that all at home and focus on the 19 children in my classroom who need me to finish off their year of kindergarten strongly, but that is much more difficult than I anticipated.
In order to get myself through each day, I've been trying to jazz things up. This is not only for me; my students need me to keep things authentic and engaging for them too. My thought was the more energy and excitement the students have for what we're doing, the more energy and excitement I will have to be there. It is not turning out the way I had hoped it would. What I ignored in all of this is the fact that my particular group of students doesn't do energy and excitement gracefully. (Not that it has to be quiet or orderly by any means, but I need for them to demonstrate some control in it.) Energy and excitement in my room looks like students leaping from the loft, students tackling each other on the carpet, students calling each other names, and, inevitably, students crying. We quickly find ourselves in a downward spiral from fun and exciting to heartbreak and frustration. Not only is it difficult for me to manage, but it is also difficult on the students. How in the world am I supposed to end the year on a positive note when my students are simply done with each other?
As I reflect on my own teaching in all of this, I cringe. When I was offered this position (the answer to many, many, many prayers), I thought I was going to be this wonderfully happy and positive teacher who inspired her students to do amazingly awesome things (think Miss Honey from Matilda). I realized this morning how incredibly far from that vision I find myself now. This year, I have yelled, I have snapped and called students out in front of other students, and I have focused on the negative more than I believe is appropriate. In so many ways, I have failed my students.
I had my intervention group write about their thoughts about kindergarten and how they are feeling about first grade yesterday. The handful of kiddos from my homeroom wrote about how nice they thought I was and how they hope they have me again next year. I couldn't help but feel like a giant faker (awesome word choice...). How can they possibly think those things? I think the simple answer is that kids are very forgiving. When they think about kindergarten, they remember the fun times - the times when I had a smile on my face and was doing something silly. God only knows how they're able to forget about my not-so-amazing moments, but they can.
I am grateful for their resiliency and their ability to forgive, but I feel badly for taking advantage of that. I was struck by the enormous responsibility we, as teachers, are given when we are trusted with our students' education and well-being for a year. We have a big job and not a lot of time to do it in. So many factors play into the success of each body in each classroom. I'm sad that, in some ways, I was not able to create the best environment for my students to succeed.
I still have 12 days left with my kiddos. I pray I am able to dig deep and find a way to continue to inspire learning in my classroom, I pray I am able to inspire my students to demonstrate the kindness I know each one of them possesses, and I pray my kiddos remember kindergarten with a smile on their faces.