Celebrate: What a Good Idea!

Here are my vocabulary words for next week:

  • Euphoria — a feeling of extreme happiness
  • Mayhem — a situation that is extremely frightening or exciting
  • Remote — physically or emotionally distant
  • Bittersweet — emotions or feelings that are both sad and happy

I love these words. They connect in some beautiful ways — in my life, in my teaching and in our read aloud, Wonder by R.J. Palicios.

I am at the place in my life where my children are growing up and going.  It has been an honor to be a part of their lives, They have formed me as much as I have formed them. Moments of euphoria, coupled with extended periods of mayhem (the frightening and the exciting kind) have filled the past 20 plus years.  I suppose that’s part of why we take on the most debilitating, frustrating, irritating and sometimes thankless job of parenting. You can never do it “right” you always feel you could have done it better.  And then when they reach that place where they are so remote (both physically and emotionally) your heart is filled with bittersweet emotions and memories.

Hmmm… Sounds a lot like teaching.

I am at the place in my teaching year where we know each other.  The euphoria of our beginning is lessening. The reality of who we are — our weaknesses and strengths — is evident. I’m getting that I’m not doing enough, could have done it better feeling.

Yesterday, I was down. Part of it was the down you get after coming off a euphoric high. Thursday I had spent the day with Lucy Calkins (oh, yeah hundreds of other educators were there too). I was completely swept away by her commitment to and investment in teachers, students, and teaching. Leaving the hotel, I felt like I could climb every mountain, ford every stream. Walking into my classroom, the vision wasn’t quite as clear.

Leaving your classroom in the hands of an unknown substitute is unsettling at best. I only do it for emergencies and really good professional development.  I asked my students, “How’d it go?” Their response: She talked too much — She wouldn’t let us do anything –We didn’t get to read or write — We didn’t have Read Aloud. We continued our day, but I was still in a funk. Irritation came easily. As I left for home, I was disappointed in myself, I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be. I didn’t come to class with my game on.

Come Saturday, after a cup of coffee and a few blog posts (thank you Katherine Socklowski and Ruth Ayers), I replay the day, and it hits me. I have something big to celebrate. My students 1) wanted to read and write, 2) felt cheated when they didn’t get the time to do it, and 3) expected it. Oh my gosh! They are doing it. They believe reading and writing is something they are entitled to. YESSSS! There is that moment of euphoria, and here a first link-up to CELEBRATE!

10 thoughts on “Celebrate: What a Good Idea!

  1. Even if we believe in our hearts there can be a positive found in every situation, sometimes it takes a little bit more to find them. Sounds like that is just what happened to you…..so celebrate.

  2. I’ve experienced the same feelings in the classroom…but how wonderful that your are already installing in your students a love for reading and writing! How equally wonderful that you can focus on the positives of being out of your classroom. I’d love to hear more about your time with Lucy Calkins. My Ss loved Wonder. We are on to OomM…will go slow until you can catch up!

    • Erin,
      Installing works too! Sorry we’re behind in Wonder! We should be done this week. Can’t tell you how much I love this book. It is so good for my students, and so good for me. See so much in it everyday.

      I used to have such anxiety being out of the classroom. Still do, but I know great PD comes right back to the students. Lucy, what can I say, an amazing human. If you get a chance see her worth every minute. Wish I could bottle some of that! Got to get to TC for the summer institute. Maybe see you there?

      Thanks for being such a great Read Aloud partner!

  3. This is beautiful, Julieanne. I love the nostalgic feel and the comparison between raising your own children and your classroom. I love the tension between mayhem and euphoria. And I LOVE the way you found the celebration in the end. It is an important realization and a big reason to celebrate. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. This is so great – I love how your whole perspective changed after you were encouraged to CELEBRATE! I feel the same way. I’m looking back at my week with new eyes.

    Sounds to me like you’re a wonderfully dedicated teacher, btw. 🙂

    • Thank you. Perspective matters. Sometimes wanting to do your best is so challenging, we forget to see the good. We need reminders to see what is going well.

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