I love teaching elementary school. I really do! I love the way that the kids make me laugh, and the way that they keep me honest.
I love finding new books and sharing them with children. I love when the children share their new books with me.
Teaching is the perfect way to keep your focus firmly on the here and now: for children, there is nothing else! Teaching allows me to let go of the past and stop waiting for the future.
Teaching elementary school is special set of relationships, created and enjoyed and left behind within one academic calendar year.
Every year is a new adventure, yet every year has the same ebb and flow.
And just last night, I finally thought about the perfect analogy for teaching elementary school.
It’s. Just. Like. Being. Pregnant.
Think about it! For the first three months of the year, you are excited, a little nervous, a little overwhelmed. You really, really hope that everything will turn out alright! You tune into every tiny change, every shift in mood, energy, appetite. You wake up at night, thinking of the class. You spend all of your energy trying to nurture everyone and trying to shape it all into a meaningful and healthy whole. Just like a pregnancy.
Then Christmas vacation rolls around, at last! You relax, you eat too much, and when you come back, you are in the second trimester. You know how that goes! Everyone is totally comfortable with each other. Everyone knows each other’s strengths, weaknesses and quirks. At this point in the year, everyone knows the routines, everyone more or less gets along, and you can basically cruise. This is the part of the year when the homework comes in on time, the class can be left alone for the time it takes to run to the bathroom, and you start to believe it when you tell yourself that you are the BEST person who has ever done this job. This is EASY!
And then spring rolls around. The air gets warm, the flowers begin to sprout. Like a last trimester pregnancy, the classroom atmosphere begins to feel a little stifling. Little things begin to irritate, friendships begin to fray. The big change that looms before us takes on a frightening shape, and we find ourselves caught in the conflicting desires of wanting to hold onto to the present, while yearning for the future.
By the end of the school year, no matter how great it has been, we find ourselves just wanting the whole ordeal to be over. Just like the third trimester of pregnancy.
And then it is all over. As parents, we find ourselves more firmly in charge of our children’s lives. More responsible, more involved, more needed. As teachers, just the opposite is true; once June comes around, and the school year ends, we find ourselves instantly detached from the lives we have nurtured for these many months.
Still. I find myself thoroughly enjoying the ‘second trimester’ of this class’ gestation. I am loving the freedom, the independence, the comfortable shared humor about everything from dog walks to bathroom breaks. I am happy to be sailing the smooth waters of this easy stage, even though I know that soon enough I will be wishing for a good night’s sleep and a chance to put the entire experience behind me.