It has been a while since my last blog post… many ideas have drifted through my brain and before I get to it, they drifted away, mainly because I doubted myself and wondered if they were worth sharing. I retreated into my shell as a mechanism to hide a bit, but also to reflect and understand. I think, it might be time to poke my head out again, be vulnerable and interact with the world.
This academic year has been a change for me. After 5 years in Kindergarten, I have moved to grade 2 and am back with the age group I was with when I started my teaching career. For most of this year I have been in the learning pit. This isn’t a bad thing. It means I am being challenged as I make sense of what it is to be a grade 2 teacher and strive to bring what I have learnt about early years practice to support learners in grade 2.
Whilst being in the learning pit is a challenge, this week I have felt like it has rained and my pit is flooding. I have felt like I am drowning. I began to flounder and as a result became less productive because I just did not know where to begin. Then, I remember a recent TV show I watched where a man drowning in a wheat silo was instructed by firefighters to stay as still as possible to prevent air pockets from forming and pulling him under. I realized I needed to do the same. I needed to be still and just notice the world around me.
Now the last few times I have practiced mindfulness, I noticed how out of sorts I was feeling. My shoulders were tense and my breathing was tight. Instead of listening to my body, I pushed it down and soldiered on. This time I listened. Instead of chasing my tail to try and get something crossed off on my mental to-do list, I stopped. I baked brownies with my daughter, read a book, picked up my son from his golfing trip and then got takeout for dinner. This morning, I slept in, did the weekly shop and rather than jumping into work as I often do on a Sunday, I decided to to share my experiences.
Whilst I know that self-care is important for teachers, I also know that self-care alone isn’t magically going to make things better. But I do hope, that my sharing my story, another teacher out there who is also drowning, will know that they are not alone.
So what is my plan to stop drowning… well, the learners are going to be my firefighters and for that I am grateful. By remembering my purpose and by meeting my learners where they are, I will notice the positives, see the learning and growth that shines through them. Here are a few examples:
- “Ms. Raana, I think I like writing now! I published a book!”
- The pride in both the parents’ and learners’ eyes during a recent learning celebration.
- The joy and excitement a learner had when sharing his reading with his family via Seesaw.
- “At the beginning of the year I did not know what a number line was and now I can use it to jump in bigger numbers, not just by ones.”
- Learners being risk-takers and willing to share their thinking during a number talk and learning from their mistakes.
- Their enthusiasm, knowledge and curiosity when meeting aeronautical engineers and conservationists through our school’s community connections.
- The leadership skills and confidence shown by former kindergartners in their fourth grade learning celebration.
Whilst my to-do list has not shrunk, I am in a better place to be the teacher our learners deserve. One, that is focused on them and I will continue to look for those rainbows, those moments of light, even when I feel like the light has disappeared.