Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Tough Year...

Alright, so, I already broke my own promise to blog on Monday mornings.  My plan was to use my new found planning time each week to blog about something meaningful.  I forgot that we were off of school for Presidents' Day on Monday, so I pushed it to Tuesday.  Then, we got a snow day!  A wondrous, glorious snow day!  Our 5th so far this year... but thankfully we aren't to "blizzard bags" or make up days yet.  If all goes correctly in Ohio, we'll just progress with the year as planned.  But I am really hoping the snow is done.

I have a strange feeling inside that God gave me these snow days for a great reason.  I'm having a tough year and try to go with the motto of "just get through it and make next year better."  Before I get the whole "pick your head up, do it for your students, be the change" argument, you don't know what kind of year I've had.

And unless I want to make the year worse, I'm not going to be necessarily blog about the details.

What I'm interested in is this:

How do you get through a tough year?

I've been trying to decrease my work load, focus on the good things in my life, meditate, become more mindful, celebrate small successes, remember I'm there for the kids, eat healthier, go to bed earlier, stress less over the work, etc., etc., etc.

It's helping, it is.

But I'm still struggling.

I need to find some inspiration, some way to make it through the days, a way to want to get out of bed in the morning...

I started looking around my house, my bedroom, my photo albums.  I tried remembering the years that were great, the great students we turned out, the wonderful parents who supported the program.

I couldn't seem to turn away from this picture.

I remember back then, I thought it was a challenging year.  I thought I was trying my best, I was stressed, but feeling successful.  If I had known then what I know now...

The day that is captured in the pictures is the day that the Cleveland Plain Dealer came to announce to my whole school that I was going to win a Crystal Apple.

I know what you're thinking... it's about the award. It's all about ME.  But it wasn't.  It was the fact that my students were there, even though it was an "after school staff meeting."  Their parents were there. My family was there.  And I learned that not just one parent nominated me, BUT THREE.  We called them "the big 3" back then, and I never imagined that I would learn so much from those three kids, and their parents.

It was a good day and a good year.

I was challenging kids.  My boss believed in what I was doing.  My team was behind me every single day.  The aides were like family to me.  The kids?  They were amazing.

We had finally gotten the program under our belts.  It was the third year in Room 5, our room for students with moderate-intensive special needs.  We were making new materials, assessing, working together.  The kids were incredible.

I had figured out what I believed in and it was to include our kids as much as possible.  Our team had the same philosophy, we had grown together...  I knew that it would be my uphill battle, but I was willing and happy to advocate for every program, material, field trip, and minute spent in an inclusive setting.

I told my principal that it was "my most difficult year" so far.  He told me that I said that every year...

In 2014, the kids are still amazing.  And that's what I need to focus on.  The kids.  The kids are incredible, they are making progress, they are learning to read, count coins, write complete sentences.  They are growing.

But still, I wonder how many years I can do this job...

How do you handle a tough year?

1 comment:

Chris said...

I love that you remind yourself that it's the KIDS that need the focus. Each year can be tough in different ways (I'm in year 12) and make you feel like you're not doing enough. The ways I get through: focus on the kids, try to fix ONE "thing" that needs tweaking, eat chocolate, and keep yourself healthy (read, laugh with friends, walk, vent). Also know that there are many teachers feeling the same way, especially at this time of year. You are not alone.