Be Kind to Yourself

What. A. Week.

Let me catch you up.

School officially started the Tuesday after Labor Day, but the district was closed the first two days because of high temperatures (old buildings, no AC). My first day was Thursday of that week, with only a few kiddos (Kindergarten starts gradually). I was out that Friday for a friend’s wedding. Monday of this past week was the last day of rolling start. Then Tuesday to Friday I had all my kiddos.

The rolling start days were simple: introduce the kids to the classroom and school, get a few routines started. The hope is that by the time they all start, most will know the general idea of how the classroom is going to be run and how to get around the school.

Tuesday, with all of my kiddos, was a really frustrating day. I was exhausted by the end. Coming from first grade, I don’t think I was naive to the fact that Kindergarten would be different. I just think that I didn’t realize just how different it would be. It’s one thing to take a class that has experienced routines and procedures before and get them started on your routines and procedures. It’s another thing to take a class that has never experienced school at all and try to get them started on routines and procedures.

Kindergartners are so little! I knew I would have to “dummy down” everything that I did in first grade. But it didn’t hit me how much I would need to until I had all these tiny lives in my classroom for the first time. Tuesday I came home tired and frustrated. I kept reminding myself that it would get better, that each day they will know and understand more than they did the day before.

Wednesday was better than Tuesday. Thursday was better than Wednesday. And Friday was better than Thursday. They really are learning more each day and getting better and better at following directions. I just need to have patience. I really do have some great kids in my class and it is going to be exciting to see what they learn and accomplish throughout the year. It’s also a little overwhelming to realize, that for most, I am their first teacher, and what I do/teach sets up the foundation for the rest of their academic career. It’s a lot of responsibility.

What did I learn this week? 6 specific things come to mind:

  1. It’s going to take a while to adjust to calling the class as a whole, “Kindergartners,” instead of “First Graders.”
  2. When all else fails, let them play.
  3. They really don’t know all the rules, you have teach them how to “play school.”
  4. Switching grades is hard, but not knowing how to do something doesn’t make you a bad teacher.
  5. Ask for help, it’s allowed.
  6. Self-care is vital for survival.

That last one was a really tough one for me this week, and I know will be a tough one all year.

Self-care. I don’t think I fully realized how exhausting (physically, mentally, and emotionally) Kindergarten would be. I go in pretty early to prepare for the day and I thought that going in early would help me to leave pretty soon after the day is done. However, there is always something else to get done, or another meeting to attend. It’s hard for me to leave things for the morning. But I am learning that it is better to leave it for the morning than to drive myself crazy by staying until 6 or later at night.

~I need to take care of me in order to be the best me I can possibly be for my students.~

I felt like a quitter all week by going home, instead of staying to work on things that needed to get done. But taking time for yourself doesn’t mean you are a quitter. It just means you know what is best for your body and what your body needs.

I have learned that I don’t need to spend every waking moment working on the computer, whether that be at school or at home. I have learned that I can come home, make dinner, and spend the rest of the evening doing what I want to do to unwind without feeling guilty. Whatever I want to get done will still be there in the morning and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t get done immediately.

I really struggled with thinking that I wasn’t committed enough, focused enough, or a good enough teacher because I wasn’t going above and beyond this first week. But I know that if I keep thinking this way and keep trying to be super-teacher I’m going to get burned out very fast. And that’s not fair to me, or to my students.

So, from now on, if you run into me in the evenings or on the weekend, you will find me resting. Resting my mind, body, and soul. Renewing my energy for the next day. Because if I keep going like I thought I needed to, I will have nothing left.

I know it will take time. There will still be some late nights and full weekends. But overall, I’m going to start focusing more on me, so I have more to give to others.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot and I really did feel them this week. Talk with me, encourage me, catch up with me, etc. I love to hear from you and I’d love to share with you. And by all means, remind me to put the computer down! 🙂

-M

Have It All

A few weeks ago, my sister shared with me Jason Mraz’s song Have It All. When she presented the song to me, she told me to pay close attention to the lyrics, which I did. I also went back and listened several more times and pulled up the lyrics to read as well.

They go like this:

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change
Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it

Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine
All, no matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen

I want you to have it all

 

The more I listened to and read the lyrics, the more I decided that this was going to be my song for this school year. If I would have written a song about what I want for my Kindergartners this year (and the years to come), these would have been the lyrics (although probably not so eloquently written!). I especially love the first verse of the song where it lists all the “may you haves.” I think it’s a beautiful list of what I desire for each kiddo I come in contact with and what I want them to embody as part of their personalities and souls. So many students that I have and will come in contact with won’t have the best self-esteem, role models, and expectations, and I think this song puts to music a variety of things that students can have and deserve to have as part of their lives. They should have people who tell them that there is an infinite possibility of ways to love them and they deserve to be loved, that it is sad when they aren’t around, and that they can and will change lives someday.

I have vowed to listen to this song at the beginning of each week to remind myself of what I want to let these kids know, what I believe about them, and how much I care for them. Music moves me and this song is no exception, and it just happens to have beautiful lyrics that have inspired me and given me a lot to think about as I begin this new school year.

This school year, if you pull this song up or it comes on the radio or at the grocery store, say a little prayer for me and my classroom of Kindergartners. That I would be able to take all the hopes, dreams, and desires that I have for these little lives and help them reach their full potential. To tell them they matter. That they are loved. That I would be sad without them. Most importantly, I hope they will internalize these thoughts and feelings to help better their environments and in turn, have an impact on another life around them.

I can’t wait to meet you, Kindergarten 2018. I truly do want you to Have It All.

-M