Building Stamina

Today marks my 45th blog post.  It also marks my shift from a focus on summer work back to my classroom.  Tomorrow is my official first day back–a day that will be filled with seeing familiar faces, catching up on summer activities, meetings and more meetings, and working to prepare the classroom and plan for an engaging start to the new school year.

The beginning of the school year always feels hard.  Even with 2/3 of our students returning (or maybe in spite of it), we want to set a tone and begin to build community that will set the stage for a year filled with learning.  Co-teaching makes it easier…and harder.  We have each other to work through our ideas with, and our ideas get examined and turned inside and out as we each consider how that idea might work…or where it might fall flat.  We have lofty goals for our first, second, and third graders–and we have to remember that they are still very young, so sometimes we have to temper our own enthusiasm and consider how to help our students build the stamina and resilience to reach (and exceed) the goals we set.

And because our students loop up with us we can’t depend on our favorite activity from last year, or read that book that worked so well with last year’s class.  Each year we need a fresh approach to getting started–new books to read, new ideas to get writing started, new ideas for getting to know each other.  It’s what I love about teaching a multiage class–and what makes it hard!

So I’m reminding myself to breathe.  And to appreciate the little things.  When I got home today after a long day in the classroom (I know, my official first day back is tomorrow–but we worked all day today!), I realized I hadn’t taken the time to look for any patterns to photograph. But the plants above the kitchen sink caught my eye…so I took out my macro lens and started noticing.  I ended up capturing the centers of a number of plants.  Do you see any patterns?

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I also spent a little time in the back yard watching Geoff work with the sprinklers.  They have been dysfunctional for most of the summer.  He dug them up and replaced the parts yesterday and today was adjusting the spray to both cover the yard and not hit the house.  There’s something relaxing about spending a bit of time in the yard, feeling the cool evening breeze, and watching the water spray.  (We now have fancy rotating sprinkler heads!)

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I’m sure that sprinkler pictures are not what readers look for in a blog post–but the act of appreciating the spray of the sprinklers helped me to clear my mind and reframe my thinking.  I know we’ll figure out how to get this school year started and I know I will love my new students and I know that my returning students will rise to each new challenge as the school year progresses.  As teachers, we also have to remember that we have to build our own stamina and resilience as we reach for our own lofty goals!  It has taken stamina and resilience to get to this 45th blog post too.  Some days it’s hard to write and I feel like I have nothing of worth to say…and then I breathe, try to focus on and appreciate the little things and dive into the writing.  Some days are filled with false starts…but by sticking with it, I always learn something about myself and I hope something that will help my students.

What do you do to refocus when things feel hard and you feel anxious?  How do you build your stamina and resilience?

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