Today I entered the classroom with a huge case of the Mondays. School seemed overwhelming, meetings cluttered my schedule, my email inbox was well into the double digits.
When I left school, however, I realized I felt energized and fulfilled. I was happy in a way I wasn’t earlier that morning. What was the difference? Somehow, I did a good job today of putting aside the endless to-do list and focusing on my interactions with students. Today was a reminder of why I love my job, and my energy levels were a good check-in for how I want to approach my days from now until the end of the year.
To help me stay focused in the craziness of fourth quarter, here are my end-of-year resolutions:
- Focus on the kids. They are what are most important and most energizing about my job. No matter how many papers I have to grade, the parent phone calls I may need to make, the classroom library books that need to be resolved, they are always what matter most. I can’t get back the face-to-face time I have with them during class. The moments for laughter, conferencing, and exploring of ideas only happen during class time. We have six weeks left. I need to take advantage of every moment.
- Get down to providing feedback, right away. This year, I started scheduling my prep. I’ve worked hard to prioritize and make time during prep for tasks that are meaningful, but that I don’t like to take home with me. The number one qualifier? Grading. (As a side note, I am trying to mentally shift “grading” to an opportunity to provide feedback. Goal for the future? Cut out grading entirely, and focus solely on feedback.)
- Reuse the good. At this point in the year, I have plenty of curriculum materials to draw from. I don’t have to create a new lesson idea for every day. There are many skills we worked on earlier in the year that can be reviewed meaningfully and applied in new and unique ways to their current reading book. Today’s example? A throwback to a lesson on uncovering layers of conflict in a novel. The discussion my students produced around this was nuanced, mind-blowing, and a great reminder that review doesn’t have to be boring.
- Tolerate discomfort. I have to remember that everything can’t get done. My classroom will be messy. The books won’t get put away. The lesson slides won’t all have the perfect graphic. And I will probably forget my keys. I have to remind myself, it’s okay. What matters is the kids.
I half a month and a half left with these kids. I want to make it count.