Conflicting Realities

The first two weeks of school were hard. They’re always hard because we’re a new community, getting to know each other and figuring things out. I just assume I’ll be ready for bed by 7 pm in the first few weeks every year.

But this start has been extra hard. Some of it is being in a new school and not really knowing my colleagues still. So there are multiple new communities of which I am a part and am trying to help build in positive ways. Being in a new school with a population of students and families who are completely new to me also adds to the exhaustion.

Both weekends since kids arrived at school I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the challenges that have arisen and on the things I feel I’ve done wrong. The images in my head continue to be the times when kids got upset (often at something I’d done) or times kids were frustrated and feeling overwhelmed at what I asked of them. (Sadly, I think this is too often a totally normal teacher thing to do.)

This morning I went through all the pictures I took last week to share them on our class website for families to enjoy. I took pictures every day of various parts of our days. I’ve got pictures of kids reading independently, pictures of kids talking to a partner, pictures of kids exploring various math tools we’ll use this year, pictures of kids playing strategy games, and more. These pictures show me third graders who are intently engaged in what they’re doing. They show me third graders with huge smiles showing their joy in what they’re doing. They show me third graders beaming with pride at something they’ve discovered or created.

These photos are at the other end of the spectrum from the images in my head.

These photos and the images in my head are both accurate. They are both realities from our past week together. Thank goodness I took these photos to help me remember all the positives. Not just the positives I see on the kids’ faces, although that’s huge, but also the reminder of all we managed to accomplish this past week. I keep thinking of how much I think we should have done and not seeing all that we did. It’s a flaw in me, I recognize that. I’m just glad I have something that counters that.

Seriously, could I question what we’ve done this week when I look at this picture and see three books open in front of this kid? (He is the one who reminds me of me – always trying to sneak in reading time. Totally respect it.)

Look at that smile. So awesome.

We will survive this five day week. I hope.

(I had a student ask me last week if we had school on Friday. I said that we did. The student then said, “But not next Friday.” I replied that we will have school next Friday. The response? “We have to do FIVE days?!?” I started to laugh. Then I realized I wasn’t sure we really can do five days…)

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