So my hair got longer and my tummy got fatter. How much change can ten months do to a girl?
(Left: August 2014, as Ms. Cooley, on Meet the Teacher night. Right: Ten months later, as Mrs. Harrington, on the last day of school.)
Besides the obvious, the past ten months were full of milestones and life changes. I moved states, got married, grew a bebe (greatest accomplishment), completed my first year of teaching, began learning how to be a wife (…or was this my greatest accomplishment?), gained 30 pounds, and more.
To top it off, baby girl is set to arrive in three days!
Before motherhood rocks my world, I want to capture a bit of this year teaching. I began this post on the last day of school.
The kids are gone, leaving hallways silent and me soaking up the rarity of peace and quiet. In my classroom of blank walls and sitting at my bare desk, I type this post. All is cleaned up and packed away. The school year is done!
I can hardly believe it.
Today, the last day, was a total fun day. It was a celebratory escape from our daily routine of expectations, data and academic objectives.
This year was difficult for me. Even still, I will miss it and am grateful to have taught my 28 students. Here’s a roundup of the year.
- Favorite memory: it’s a toss up here between: 1) our last week of school that was filled with learning projects, arts, science, and joy-filled learning -and- 2) the exciting, wide-eyed greeting I received Monday mornings as my students recounted to me every last detail of their weekend and how much they missed me, and “the baby.”
- Biggest challenge: witnessing the life challenges my young students are exposed to and must cope with on a daily basis. And then rendered unable to secure them in little protective bubbles until they’re old enough for this tough world and these adult problems.
- Personal insight: a longing to homeschool my kids and therefore give them a very strong reading and math foundation before sending them into the school system.. I was also reaffirmed in my desire to be a stay-at-home mama!
- Greatest lesson: I can’t do everything wanted or expected of me and still maintain an enriching personal life. Say “no” to things to make faith and family my number one.
- Greatest regret: going back to my favorite memory, I wish I’d incorporated more fun into daily learning. So many days I dreaded going back into my classroom. It was draining! With so much pressure from leadership, it was all: Data, data! CCSS! Expectations! Objectives! These are necessary components of instruction, of course, but they too many times sucked the fun out of my natural teaching style. They should add “fun” and “amount of laughter” to the instructional rating rubrics!
- What I will miss the most: those “ah-ha” or “lightbulb” moments when something clicks for a struggling student as a result of a unique way I said or did something. I will especially miss these moments with my SPED students. Oh, those moments when I witnessed those puzzle pieces connect in the mainstream classroom make all the struggle so rewarding.
(The assignment was: Illustrate your favorite memory from second grade using pencils to sketch and watercolors to paint.)
This first year of teaching was my most challenging year to date. Of course, challenges yield growth and for this I am so grateful! I’m grateful to have this life experience and to say goodbye to my twenty-eight kids believing I made a, be it small, impact on children’s lives.
And I couldn’t say it then, so I’ll type it now — I will pray for these kiddos for as long as I live. I pray Jesus will live in their hearts and they will live joyful, holy lives!
There, I said it! Whacha gonna do? …Fire me :P