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March 22, 2021

Livestreaming link turned on.  Lunch count taken for the kids in person.  Attendance done.  What else do I need to do?

As students settle into their morning work, I sit at my desk to continue my self-flagellation. What else should I already have done by now?  My morning message wasn’t finished before students walked into the classroom. I’ve forgotten to post today’s schedule in Google Classroom for the kids online.  Instead of doing that now I should be walking around the room interacting with the kids in person.  Or maybe not walking around, but interacting somehow.  And interacting with the kids online, too.  Why can’t I ever get my act together to get to school early enough?

But for once I catch myself.

Actually, the reason I was late to school was I was drafting an email to help parents feel more comfortable with the report cards going home tomorrow.  I wanted to do it before I left the house because I’d told the first year teacher that I’m mentoring that I would write this model for her, and I wanted to share it early in the day.

The reason I didn’t have the schedule posted in Google Classroom was because when students came into the classroom I took the time to pass out notes that the principal had written to each student.  I’ve been working with my class all year on self-assessing their work and setting realistic goals.  For once, I’d planned ahead well enough that students’ self-evaluations were finished in time for me to share them with the principal along with their report cards.  The principal was thrilled with my fourth-graders’ work–enough to text me over the weekend and decide to write personalized notes to each student.  Why wasn’t that was I was focusing on?

Last week, my students asked me if we could schedule writing time earlier in the day so they could have more time to write because they’re having so much fun working on their research reports. A number of 4th graders ended up with reports that were 10 pages long.  They didn’t believe they could write so much…..but now they do.

Why wasn’t that what I was focusing on?

The week before, students debated the American Revolution fiercely, laying out their arguments and asking pointed questions of their opponents.  Why wasn’t that what I was focusing on?

My students are happy coming to school, obviously growing, excited about reading and writing and taking on challenges.

And yet, I am deeply ashamed of taking extra minutes during the school day to catch up on tasks I could have done before school started.  I tell myself “A good teacher wouldn’t be sitting at her desk”.

And in that unusual moment of clarity, I realize that I can change my focus.  I can decide that what I do is enough.  I can type up the schedule and then look around the room and self-congratulate myself on creating a classroom that hums without me.

I can be good enough if I choose to see it.

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  1. Yes! This is exactly it! You put into words what I’ve been trying to for so long. Teachers will always have things left undone. It’s impossible to do it all. But, if we do what’s important, that’s all that really matters. And I love the line, ‘a classroom that hums without me’. That’s the jam.

  2. Yes, I enjoyed reading how you grew to accept your accomplishments, they may not have been exactly what you planned but they were great choices.

  3. This is so encouraging, and it’s great that you’ve realized it — perhaps because you had to find something to post for the daily slice. This sounds like a piece of thinking that came into existence from writing. Good work!

  4. jumpofffindwings permalink

    “…a classroom that hums without me,” should be everyone’s goal. What a pleasure to read you finding satisfaction in a job well-done. Lucky students, those fourth graders!

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