Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coming back

Tuesdays at TWT!
"This keeps getting more complicated." Over the dull din of other diners at Panera, my colleague tosses his head back and laughs. "I keep finding that teaching is so much more complicated than I ever imagined."

"So do I!" I giggle, but I feel a surge of silent gratitude to be sitting here on a summer afternoon, discussing the joys and challenges of this job career profession calling life I love with a colleague who, despite a first year that absolutely kicked him in the gut, somehow loves it too, just like me.

We're working on our presentation for next week's district conference about supporting ELLs in content classes, but our teacher brains, too used to running a thousand programs at the same time, keep taking us other places. As we screenshot the best examples from our adventures together in his 3rd period Physical Science class, we drift back and forth through time, reflecting on last year and looking ahead.

Now that it's on the topic of school, my brain is spinning hard. "I really want to do more with my kids this fall to help them learn how to learn in their regular classes!" I'd thought of this in the spring, but it almost slipped my mind until we started remembering the utter lack of academic skills my kids ("ALL freshmen, really!" he interjects) have. "I mean, nobody tells you in your education classes that in addition to your content, you're going to have to teach your kids how to study, how to take notes, how to focus, how to regulate their emotions, how to set goals..."

The sheer BIGness of teaching hits me with its full force. It IS complicated. And amazing.

And out of the haze of a baby-filled summer, I remember, in a visceral surging way: I LOVE this job career profession calling life.

This crazy, stressful, fun, demanding, soul-crushing, uplifting, life-changing job career profession calling life. Am I looking forward to returning to lunches gulped in fifteen minutes, one scheduled bathroom break, and work that piles up far faster than I can ever get it done? Not really. Do I love feeling like I constantly have to settle for "good enough", knowing I could do so much better if I just had more time to prepare, reflect, and collaborate? Definitely not -- it's that much harder when you're a perfectionist.

But I love it. I love sharing my love of literacy with my kids. I love getting to know my kids and learning about their cultures, their languages, and their incredible lives. I love encouraging them in their learning and supporting them through their many challenges. I love being an expert who helps my colleagues teach my kids better, and I love being a learner who is constantly looking for new ways to improve my own instruction. And mostly, I. love. my. kids!

And while I'm grateful for the rejuvenation summer brings, I can't wait. I can't wait for booktalks and read-alouds, brainstorming and revision, messy thinking and proud products. I can't wait for purposeful conferences and quick conversations, joyful hugs and hallway tears. I can't wait for those cinder block walls to become a little home. I also can't wait for family meetings, for collegial collaboration with hearts like mine, for failed and successful experiments in new ways to help all students learn.

This is a colossal, complicated, challenging job career profession calling life. And an awesome one. And I'm so thankful that for all the ways it beats us up, it holds so many joys and promises that keep us coming back, whether it's our second year or our tenth.


  1. i agree... teaching makes me happy too :)

  2. I know you're a perfectionist, and that you are a fabulous teacher, am glad you love it, too. Being with kids learning is just an awesome thing, and that is what others "outside" don't understand at all. Yes, it's work, but oh yes, it's a great "life". Thanks Jennifer, wish you could read this aloud at some national teacher's meeting, cheering them on! I imagine you helped your colleague too as you planned, as he helped you, too.

  3. I get so giddy every summer when I get to step back into my room for another year. :) I love, love, love this life. :)

  4. You are the teacher every parent wants in their child's education. Your passion for literacy and your kids explodes off the page, so I can't even imagine how it is in real life. I know it will be a great year for you and your students!

  5. Yes. Every year, near the end of summer, I feel the tidal wave of stress wash over me. Then I think of the smiling faces that await me in August. All the stress is worth it! Thanks for the inspirational post!


Comments make me happy and I'd love to hear from YOU! :-)