School is starting soon. Well, at least for the kids. For you summer break probably looks more like a yield sign than the red and green of a stoplight as it does for us – enough to pause and regroup and regather, to reassemble lesson plans and inventory books and supplies, to write 25 new names on 25 new desk tags and 25 cubbies and coat hooks and lines in a grade book.
Before we get caught in the whirl of a new year, I want you to know something: Our family is rooting for you. We’re praying for you. We are thankful to the core for you.
Teaching is tough. It requires thick skin and a tender heart; it asks that you simultaneously push our kids toward greatness while protecting them from undue pressures; it asks that you manage the ever changing intellectual and emotional infrastructure of 25 unique kids and make connections with 25 different families with 25 different structures. And sometimes it may feel like you’re expected to move mountains. It’s a lot.
And that’s why we want you to know that we’re together in this together.
There are 180 days of school between now and the end of the year. One hundred eighty opportunities to pour into the kids placed in front of you. One hundred eighty times to move them, one degree at a time, from where they are to where they could be. From timid to courageous, from “I can’t,” to “I can,” from fearing math to helping his math buddy learn a new skill, from friendless to belonging, from, bully to compassionate.
Just one degree a day. A gentle turn around. Two encouraging hands on their shoulders, guiding them.
Some days it will feel like stalling or even backwards progress. Some days it will look more like discipline and will take more than its share of energy from all of us. Some days you might even wonder why you tried or if you failed. But I think if we’re in the mess together, sorting it out, turning it around, muddling through it together, we can make it happen one degree at a time.
I’ve watched this magic in my own kids as they’ve grown and matured in your classrooms – how our oldest struggled to feel capable in math and suddenly “got it,” or when you helped her maneuver a difficult friendship, or how your compassion and positivity has helped her deal with disability and loss; how our middle one gained confidence as he gained skills and progressed through speech therapy. You were there, not just cheering for them from stands, but in there with them, coaching them, sometimes bandaging them, turning them a degree, and sending them back out there to try again.
So on the first day, or after the first week, or if your classroom is stacked to the brim with 8 IEP’s and behavior plans, or you’re overwhelmed with assessments, or have that kid in your classroom all.year.long, remember:
“Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb