OMG... the 2018-2019 school year is upon us!
It's so hard to believe that another summer has slipped by and students are only days away from picking out first day of school outfits, strapping on backpacks and bagging their lunches to embark on another year of learning.
As I sit here checking off my own BTS to do list, reorganizing my digital world, and blogging this to you, I am so incredibly grateful because this summer I got to enjoy loads of time to decompress, relax, refresh and focus on recharging my batteries. I can't remember the last time I had this kind of rest. It has been wonderful, and in the light of all that has happened in my personal life the last several years, so long overdue.
The truth is that so many teachers like me get caught up in the hamster wheel thought that, "if I do more, I will be a better teacher," but we are all starting to learn that self care is very often the very thing that creates space in your head for ideas and reflections to emerge that would not happen otherwise. One of those realizations happened to me over the summer as I was talking to my husband about his alternative certification work. I can't remember the exact context now, but I said to him, "The thing you have to keep in mind when you start teaching is this: although our students look like they are adults, they are not. They don't really know how to do much of anything for themselves, and are at their core, still children. We have to teach them our content areas, but how to do so many other things, too." That comment to my husband was powerful for me more than for him because it brought me back to my teaching roots and helped me find my way back to my WHY.
I think I can safely say that all teachers, at least teachers worth their salt, decide to teach and choose the level they want to teach for very specific reasons. I remember thinking back before I started teaching that I wanted to teach high school, and I never imagined doing anything else. High school to me is the last stop before children are birthed into the adult world. While college is still all about being a student, so much of the scaffolding students have grown accustomed to is stripped away, and kids have to learn how to do things without an adult telling them to. They have to stumble and fall their way towards the balance between fun and obligation. They fail often, and they fail more often if the adults in their lives before going to college never empower them to do and decide things on a smaller scale with fewer or less weighty consequences.
When I chose to teach high school, I wanted to be a part of that transition from child to adult. I remember all of my failures, all my setbacks and all the ways I disappointed the adults in my life back when I was their age, and I pledged that I would be a teacher who would do whatever she could to soften those blows by being available to coach kids through anything that might help. For a long time, I felt like I was doing that, or trying to, and then things just felt OFF. I went through a series of teaching years that were just bad when it came to how I interacted with kids, and I began to believe I had lost my love for the children I had been so passionate for so many years ago. I even Googled "teacher burnout" to see if I could self diagnose and determine if it was time to throw in the towel. To be fully transparent, I just had no patience for them at all. I didn't understand why they couldn't just... insert whichever task, behavior, whatever into that blank and that was me. When I would pull kids out into the hallway, it was hard not to just vent my frustration or rage at them, and sometimes I failed and did just that. When a student said something snarky, I cannot confidently say that I didn't snark right back. Kids no longer responded to me the way they used to, nor did I respond to them well.
It is only in retrospect that I can see what was really happening. I had worked myself to death. I was going through layer upon layer of personal hardship. I was also a parent whose child was no longer a child, and like most parents once my own child moved through an age or phase, I had less patience for other children who were younger. I started treating my students as if they were grown instead of remembering that they weren't my own daughter, Zoi. So, that conversation with my husband was critical. I had to really come back to the realization that my 9th and 10th graders are really in need of my teaching them so much more than Spanish. In fact, Spanish is secondary to everything else. That is my WHY, and rediscovering that why has been transformational. It has allowed me to tap into a deeper level of grace than I have felt in years. It has helped me mentally frame what this new school year is going to be about. It is changing everything, and I am feeling like me again, and for the first time in a long time, I am so excited for the first day of school. I cannot wait to meet my new students, and I am bubbling about getting to be THE Spanish 1 teacher.
The enthusiasm I feel is the fuel for diving back into my blogging, renovating this website, and formally launching my class social media presence via Twitter, Instagram and possibly even Snapchat (although, I seriously don't get it). I am going back to basics, so what you will find in my blog will be all about what I am learning from my students. That is why they are in the forefront of the home page. Social media accounts will share what we are doing from day to day. Lenolandia is our special place to celebrate our learning and growing together.
I am so looking forward to coming back to the beginning of things, but with new perspective. Self care for me was as much about recharging as it was about zooming back out to see the bigger picture, and oh what a lovely one it is! Like visiting the Grand Canyon, walking the bottom floor limits what we can see. The space immediately in front of us is nice, but to appreciate it fully we have to come back up to the top, step back and take in the vastness of the whole. Just as one year or storm did not create that canyon, one teaching day or year does not represent the impact we have over the course of our careers. And, the beauty of that canyon wasn't created by ease, oh no, but by the grinding winds and the abrasive waters that carved into the earth slicing away to reveal how it took ages of feast and famine compacted together to design a breathtaking landmark. We have to know that the years of difficulty are necessary for our growth. We do not become better educators because of ease. We become better because we submit to the winds and waters and allow them to polish us.
Here's to the 2018-2019 school year! Here's to finding our why's and embracing the challenges our career choice presents to us.
Welcome back to Lenolandia! I hope you will continue to learn with me.
Happy Coaching, friends! Have a great return to school!
(n.) A special place where we remember that students are humans that need to feel loved and important, where their achievements are celebrated every day and where we learn Spanish along the way!
My Blogging Tribe
by Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
El mundo de Birch
by Sharon Birch
by Laura Sexton
Kristy Placido's Blog
by Kristy Placido
by Colleen Lee-Hayes
Creative Language Class
by Kara Parker &
Somewhere to Share
by Carrie Toth
En Francais, SVP!
by Wendy Farabaugh
Super Spanish Senora
by Talia Block
Tales from the Salle de Clase
by Megan Sulewski
Que sera, sera
by Amanda Diaz Mora
Thinking About Syncing?
by Catherine Ousselin
Path to Proficiency
Craig Talks Teaching
by Craig McKinney