End of the School Year and Things I’ve Learned

I’ve almost made it. We are 4 1/2 weeks till the last day of school. There were moments that were so incredibly difficult that I questioned whether or not I would be able to come back next year. I knew I would make it till the end of the year (I made the commitment), but I didn’t know if I wanted to stay moving forward. I knew that I just needed to focus on today and complete this first year.

There have been many years in which I taught and left mid-year because of my severe mental illness. This year was different. I KNEW that it would get better, even in the midst of depression and severe anxiety. I also KNEW that God dropped this job in my lap so I wanted to at least stick to it this year.

And here I am, end of April, excited about next year. I’m worn out and ready for summer, but I have so many plans and ideas for next year that I cannot wait to get started on planning.

Progress

I tend to focus on all that I am not doing right. The things where I have failed and assume that it affects others greatly. I am a perfectionist, so imperfection means not good enough. I KNOW I could have done better in so many areas. There were many moments when I have felt so exhausted that I didn’t teach the best. I have struggled with classroom management off and on. I have not been consistent with everything. I was sick many times and had to be out.

But. I love my students. I have wanted the best for them, even in the midst of frustration with behavior issues. I have tutored from the beginning because my students needed the extra (they can’t handle it anymore, though, as they are worn out). I have consistently applied what I’ve learned in the reading academy that I have been required to go to all year. I have done fun things like Poetry Teatime, brain breaks, hands on activities, etc. I’m a safe place. They take out their big feelings on me a lot of times, but I know that I am a safe person. They know they are loved. I have learned better planning strategies and ways of using the curriculum to benefit all of us. I have poured myself out all year. And I’m worn, but it has been so beneficial for them. And for me.

You see, my students came to me so behind. I have worked super hard to help them learn how to read (this is still a work in progress) and think deeply and problem solve. I have referred several students for testing (that needed to referred in years past) and some began receiving services that they needed to receive. I have taught growth mindset. I have introduced them to great literature and authors such as Shakespeare and lots of poetry and traditional literature and Narnia and amazing picture books and so much more. I have dug deep with phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, etc with my struggling readers. I taught the difficult math concepts and we practiced those every single day. I have taught test-taking strategies so that they didn’t feel super stressed about the STAAR test (they know what to do coming into it). I have taught them that they are capable of anything. I have taught them to be kind. I have taught them that every single person is smart in some way (when they call themselves dumb). When they say “this is EASY,” I remind them that what is easy for them might not be easy for others and vice versa (now when they say it, someone says “it might be easy for you but not for others). I have taught them to put themselves in others’ shoes. I have taught them to respect adults and each other (still a constant work in progress).

There are many who still struggle deeply. But. The progress that they have made this year has been fantastic. And even the parents notice. Some parents have been telling me that their kids have made so much progress, they see it, and they are thankful. Some are hoping their second graders are in my class next year.

Our Last Month of School

I will definitely be doing some of our normal routines. Our lessons will be consistent. But I am trying to focus more on fun than anything else. I want them to feel relaxed going into the STAAR test and into the summer.

We have started doing sensory breaks because they are physically ready to be done with school. They have more energy than usual. They are tired of being together all the time. They are ready for summer. We are growing butterflies and ladybugs. We might also get some tadpoles from the river and grow those. We planted some green bean seeds this week. We are going to the Science Mill museum on Thursday. We do meditation and listen to soft music. I have my diffuser going all day.

I’m determined to make these last few weeks positive despite the difficulty of the end of the year. This time of year is exhausting, but I know I can get through because it’s short term. And I have excitement for the future.

Survival

Everyone who knows me knows that I love cooking and baking from scratch and eating healthy and local. I have been doing that most of the year despite working full time. And I LOVE it. But. I decided last week that it’s not going to work right now. It’s just not.

I decided to buy all kinds of pre-prepared food. Frozen meals. Bagged chopped salads. Frozen veggies. Prepared breakfasts. It’s mostly processed, but I know it’s not forever. I will just get through this month and do the best I can with what I have and make the best of it.

My main goals are getting through the rest of the year and ending things on a positive note. If I’m trying to do all the things, that won’t happen well.

I’m feeling good about how things are ending.

Our Summer

We have lots planned! This is the first time ever that we have had money to be able to afford to do things. The kids and I are headed to Frisco to hang with friends in June. I have already reserved several days at Six Flags. My cousins will be coming to visit. The kids and I will spend time at my parents’. I think we might go to Rockport or some other beach town. And the best part of all? Robert is now the wilderness director so I’ll be hanging out with the program a lot. Wilderness tends to have amazing summer staff. I plan to help the cook a lot. I plan to hang out at Mi Casa, which is the lodge for the program. I’m so excited that he’ll have summer staff and that he’s part of programs now! It’s his dream job, and I’m so glad to support him in this. He will be so busy, but I can handle that just fine.

Life is good, y’all.

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