Slice of Life Tuesday:The Halfway Point

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halfway there

Tuesday marks the halfway point of our school year.  I spent some time after school on Monday tidying up and clearing  out old charts and debris from projects long ago completed.  It didn’t quite feel like the late August straightening out, thank goodness, but there was a similar sense of a new chapter beginning.  Today, rubrics are turned in, bins and binders will be cleaned out, and we prepare for a whole set of “new stuff”.

The second semester. The second half of the school year. The home stretch.

This is the time when I tend to feel most vulnerable as a teacher.  By this time of the year, June suddenly does not feel so far away; I begin the think of Spring Break, the short February recess we get, and the field trips we have planned for April and June.  The calendar might say that we have five more months of school, but that time does not feel nearly enough for all that’s left to do.

I worry that we have not done enough. Read enough. Written enough. Spent time tussling over ideas and meaning enough.

I worry that I am beginning to feel the concerns of the school year (some petty and some not) pull me down, and make me feel discouraged by the way things often are: for all the change we see from year to year, some things just stay the same.

And I feel tired; teaching is  physically exhausting, and the grey January to end of February months do little to clear away the winter doldrums.

So, this is when I reach for my teacher-heroes, and re-read passages from their books, blog posts, and Tweets.  I need to be refilled with  September energy and resolve, with the freshness of September joy.

And so, I began today with Vicki Vinton.  Vicki is usually flying around the world helping teachers like me achieve their teaching visions; or, Vicki is writing another book to show us how to make those visions real.  Her posts are few and far between, but each one is such a gem.  Each one seems to say exactly what I need to hear, when I need to hear it!

This post, for example, got right to the heart of what was really worrying me: that I had failed my students, that I wasn’t a good enough teacher, that I had wasted time.  And Vicki’s wise words made me rethink where we were in our school year, and what was (in fact) the most important thing: teaching my kids in a way that sticks, and preserving my own love of teaching.  I read these lines over and over:

“And so… I ask you this: What are you doing to cultivate passion in the readers and writers in your rooms? And what passions are you cultivating and nurturing in yourself, knowing that they will fuel and sustain you far more than failure and grit?”

I thought about all the books my kids have been reading…

I thought about all the ways in which we’ve plunged into all sort of writing genres for so many varied purposes…

And I thought about the sound of purposeful chatter and downright silliness…

I thought about the books that are stacked by my desk at home, and by my bedside which fill me with  wisdom and delight…

I thought about my teaching friends all over this great good world who meet me online to chat about the work we do, applaud each others’ efforts, and urge each other on…

And I decide to forego thoughts of failure. Bring on the second half of the year…there is so much good work to be done!




17 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday:The Halfway Point

  1. Time sure does fly. When I was still teaching I had the same thoughts you have around this time of year. Did I do enough? Did I adequately prepare my students for the upcoming state tests? How will I cover all that still needs to be covered? The answers were always the same…yes, yes, I will. Hope you have a great second semester.

  2. One thing that I applaud at this time of year is how comfortable we are in the room together. We know each other. We laugh. We share. Lately when I’ve missed a few days, the kids have things they have saved to tell me.
    I love that you turn to mentors. I have not read Vickie’s blog. I need to add it to my collection. But I count you as one of those wise teachers who always sets me straight.

  3. This mid year point is hard – with so much yet to come but as you reflected there is so much that has happened. The best part of part two is the community that is now working together to push through the rest of the year! Enjoy those kids these last 5 months!

  4. Next week is our Expo, that turning point at the school where I taught, and even Ingrid is feeling the crunch, wondering if she has enough projects to show! Perhaps even students do have this feeling of evaluating the year, & wondering if they’ve done enough? I’m glad you found good support that answers loud & clear, “YES!” And now you can enjoy all the good parts of “last things”.

  5. Thank you Tara for your pep talk! I needed it as it is only Feb/already Feb. But you are right…so much to celebrate!! And along with Vicki, YOU are a go-to for me!!

  6. Great post.I know things have changed so much for teachers especially with all the testing they have to do these days, but I know that the parents in our community appreciate all the teacher’s do for our kids. And I’m sure all your parents appreciate you, too. Even if they don’t show it all the time. 🙂

  7. I think I need to read this every day for the next month because I agree, the vulnerability of now in the year is hard and we have to look around, breathe and know what we do every day in the room is more than we know.

  8. Vicki never fails to inspire.

    The winter months are hard, Tara. I’m feeling it, too. I think we have to remember that less is more and stop trying to do, do, do. You’re smart to take a second and breathe and read. 🙂

  9. Thank you, Tara. I needed this. It is so interesting how there is a cycle we go through. I’m in that same moment. Thank you for reminding me of what I should be working towards. What I am working towards.

  10. Tara, what an honest reflection on how you feel. Your ending was wonderful as you reflected on your turn around thoughts. It’s great to be a connected educator and sharing your feelings with those who are like-minded and interested. You’re in the home stretch and I know that you will give it all you got.

  11. What a joy to read this today. Your sentiments mirror mine each year at this time and then again around May. “What haven’t I done?” is the question that plagues me. I must eradicate that thinking with what have I done and I think this is why I focus so much on process and problem solving over specific information gathering.

  12. This is s great post and a reminder that it’s a sort of new beginning….we still have a long way to go….keep your eye on the ball rather than the petty political problems that try to derail us from our focus.

  13. We are four weeks from 4th quarter and the feeling is even stronger, but you right. There is so much we HAVE accomplished. Sigh. There always comes a time to send them on and we have to trust we have done all we can with what we have.

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