Dear Mrs. S,
Hi, I am Lacey, the side of you that can still sleep in until 10 in the morning, wears pajamas later than I should, and actually watches The Tonight Show now since (my pretend biffle) Jimmy Fallon took over.
I am wrapping up a fabulous Spring Break. I didn’t leave my hometown, but that’s okay. It was needed. I caught up on some
mighty fine television and also a few chores. I cooked three (!) Pinterest recipes. I got reacquainted with my summer love, Aloe Vera, after getting fried on that particularly warm March Day. I remembered why the Lord invented sunscreen. I attended a wedding of a high school friend (and cried marveled that it’s been eight years since I graduated). I actually read a book that didn’t mention anything education or Dr. Seuss related. I kissed some friends’ darling babies, hugged said friends and other girls I love, and I even made a scrapbook.
Well, I uploaded photos onto Walgreens’ website. And clicked order. Then, I drove down the road to pick up my lovely photobook that I tirelessly assembled by clicking and dragging for at least fifteen minutes.
But that totally counts in my (scrap)book. That way, my future children will be able to see their Daddy’s total joy when it came to posing for a selfie when waiting for a table at O’Charley’s in 2013.
I’m about to go away during the daytime, and you, Mrs. S, are going to take back over. And to be honest, you’re feeling a little glum about school starting back. Granted, a large chunk of this is due to the alarm clock blaring at dark-thirty in the morning.
But that’s not all of it.
Not because you don’t love your students (or your coworkers). In fact, they’re what motivate you to get out of bed and face the day.
A day that (can) consist of continuous reminders that sometimes your good is just not good enough. Not through people you love’s words, but by people outside your classroom walls. Your school walls. People making changes to your profession that you once couldn’t wait to be a part of, but now you are asking yourself if it was worth all your effort. People that have never stepped foot into a classroom other than to make an appearance during an election year. Or sometimes people who have, but haven’t in years. People who have forgotten that students are human beings, not a number.
(The same goes for teachers, by the way).
A lot has changed in even those short four years you’ve been the leader in that classroom.
But one thing hasn’t. The kids.
So, this is my reminder to you. My plea. Enjoy those children. These next nine weeks are the most stressful, but also the most fun. Get through the rest of March and April. These next few weeks are the most grueling of the year, but you’ll soon be able to say you survived. Take it one day at a time. Work hard everyday to prepare those children for tests that you may not agree with, but that are your responsibility to make sure they are prepared.
Speaking of, be an advocate for your kids and your profession. When the opportunity arises to speak, do so. With passion. With respect. And with those first graders in mind.
Make it as fun as you can. Take brain breaks. Explain why they missed questions in review (because they will miss questions, despite you teaching it 290 different ways and times). Better yet, have them explain why they missed it. Make sure they are learning. Those tests are important, but if they’re just memorizing, you’re doing a disservice to those kiddos (and the Second Grade teachers will come hunt you down).
After those tests are behind you, keep learning, but add some things in that you just couldn’t squeeze as much of before now. Do science experiments. Make scavenger hunts. Read a story (or – get this – two stories). DO A CRAFT! Spend time on writing for fun, not a score. Celebrate good behavior. Give a hug as they are dismissed each day. But soak in these last few days with this class.
Remember that these first graders will be fifth graders before you know it. Your very first class that knew you as “Miss Greene” is moving on to middle school this summer. And every time you see them, you become a Ma-Maw thinking, “They grow up so fast.”
These first graders will too. And they’ll forever remember you as their first grade teacher. Let it be a memory that they’ll treasure.
And while not teaching those youngins, keep your spirit up. Keep dancing with those colleagues that have become your close friends on Friday afternoons. Have date nights with your husband. Balance. Allow yourself two days of the week to stay late(ish), but no more than that. Have yourself ready to teach those babies the next day, and the rest will be there. Keep school (physical supplies but emotional feelings too) at school.
Except when (more) new legislation is passed affecting your job and/or your salary. Then, you may totally vent your frustrations to your husband. And eat a bowl of ice cream as you vent.
Most importantly, keep saying a prayer on your way to school each morning. Pray that you will be a light to your students and your coworkers. Pray that your students will feel safe and loved. Pray that your patience will remain on the toughest days. Pray that you will give grace like you’ve been given. You will not always succeed at this, but that’s why you pray for forgiveness too.
OH, and please change your school desktop wallpaper back to the beach. That snowman is SO last season.
You’ve got this. See you after school, weekends, and in nine weeks when Summer Break begins!
(I know you’re not counting, but just in case),