My last few years have been a bit of a mess professionally. In the last four years I have gotten married, blended two families together, changed schools, changed grade levels TWICE, miscarried twice, given birth to a precious baby girl who needed to spend her first 16 days in the NICU due to her six week too early arrival, stayed home on maternity leave for almost three quarters of that school year, returned to work with a still nursing baby who rejects the very idea of sleep, muddled through that year, and now...here we are.
If you notice, almost everything on that list was something personal and not professional. Which is why I've been a professional mess. I had very little brain space or energy to be the teacher I'd always been in years past. It has hounded me every year for the last four... I wanted to be better. I wanted to try new things. I wanted to connect better with my kids. I. Just. Couldn't. Do. It.
But now... My baby usually sleeps for more than a few hours at a time at night. It's glorious. It started towards the end of last school year and although we still have a night (or two) each week where she decides that the night-time hours are the best times for us to spend mommy-daughter time, it's still pretty rad. And I feel like I'm invincible (most days). I finally have my teacher mojo back. It feels fabulous.
So, where to start? After being on the sidelines for so long, where does one even begin to be relevant again?
I caught up with the teaching blogs that I follow. Yep. I'd even given that up in my harried frenzy to survive my infant (and other three children). Then, I started getting into Instagram. I found Kayla Delzer (If you don't follow her. Go now. I won't be offended. She will change your life.) and was inspired to join Twitter through The Greg and Kayla Show (If you aren't on Twitter, go watch it. Now. I'll be here later. You. Must. Not. Wait.) The Teachers Pay Teachers Conference this year was also a HUGE motivator. I hung onto every post on Instagram and Twitter about the conference. I wanted to be one of the cool kids who was out there flying my nerdy teacher flag of positivity. I read Move Your Bus by Ron Clark. It was the first professional book I'd read since before getting pregnant. My baby will be two years old next month, y'all. Yikes. I read Tuck Everlasting, Counting by Sevens, and Esperanza Rising this summer. I'm ashamed to say that they were the first kid books I'd read in probably just as long.
I feel rejuvenated! On fire! I've done some more reading and thinking and reading and thinking and I'm finally starting to find my focus for the year...and maybe for always.
It is my goal this year to build the strongest relationships possible with my students. In the last few years, it's been such a struggle to survive every day that my students have definitely gotten the short end of the stick. This year is different. It is my first priority to learn my kiddos inside and out and to build a deep sense of trust between us. For without that, I know that we can't do our best work.
My other goal is to share my current state of positivity and energy with other teachers. Through Twitter and Instagram definitely. This blog is a shot in that direction as well. Those, however, are easy. The teachers (and non-teachers) that I've connected with on social media are all so positive and uplifting. I also want to effect change in my own school. I teach at a fabulous school with fabulous students and fabulous families and some really fabulous teachers. But we all have room to grow, right? And I feel that some of the motivation to grow and innovate is missing in my school. And I want to help to fix it. It's a far harder challenge to put myself out there in front of my colleagues, but I'm going to tackle it.
There's so much more to come. I promise.
That's my jam.