Slice of Life Tuesday is hosted by Two Writing Teachers
I’m a week into the new school year, a time of excitement, trepidation, and exhaustion. It always takes a few weeks to regain teaching stamina, and I’m not even close to being there yet.
The new Smithlings are settling into life in our classroom: we know each other’s names, we share our stories, we chime into discussions about reading and writing and politics, and we laugh. I love the laughter…it will see us through the year, it will be among what we remember best.
I’m slowly learning about the children I have the privilege of teaching this year – it’s a watchful, close listening time for me, a time of observing small gestures and quick glances, for there is so much to be learned about my kids by simply being quiet and listening to them.
My slice of life today is really anchored by two Tweets. I came across each of them at the end of my block teaching time, when my kids had left the classroom but echoes of our time together were still reverberating in our space. At times like this, I sometimes feel a sense of panic: the work of a school year is so enormous, the responsibility of being part of what shapes a child’s progress as a learner and as a person is so great. Am I up to this task? And what is it that I truly want to accomplish as an educator – beyond just “the skills”.
So, these Tweets spoke to that sense of panic:
Yes, what my kids need to know from me is that I am here for ALL of them – I choose to teach ALL of them: no labeling, no sidelining, no ignoring. Each child deserves to feel that she has a place in our learning community, each child deserves to know that I’ve got his back.
I happened to see this Tweet after a particularly wrenching discussion about Charlottesville. My students had many questions and opinions, but mostly they were scared and wanted some form of reassurance that the world is still a good place. Listening to them, I was reminded of the words of Anne Frank: “It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Children want to know that good is good, and evil is evil, and that the grownups they trust will work to ensure that it stays that way. To care about what I am saying and what they are getting from what I am saying…that’s part of my work, too.
I found these messages reassuring and empowering – they helped anchor my teaching thinking in these early days. For that I am grateful.