This mantra has been running through my head the past two weeks: "I just want to be a good teacher." I want to be firm but loving, understanding, compassionate, and strict. I strive to be better than years before, more organized, make stronger relationships with families, speak fluently and easily in Spanish with the parents, learn Mien so I can communicate with cutie C's mom, and shower my two toughest behavior issues with unconditional love and support. I aim to differentiate, conference, and interactively model my face off. I've read the Responsive Classroom guidebook at least 4 times cover to cover, and still I look for more games and energizers to fill these beginning of year first graders with positive experiences at school.
But I yelled today. I pulled out my ultra-stern "ExCUSE ME" in the hallway with two classes. I saw the looks that passed over kids' faces. "Oooh, Ms. Estrada YELLS," they seemed to say. There was that disappointed but also shocked look that emerged, and then fixing their line immediately. It's been one week and one day, people. I was tired and cranky and tired of positive reinforcing up-the-wazoo how to stand in a straight line. Tomorrow, I will remember to be gentle and to positively reinforce while also being firm with children who are acting cray cray at the back of the line, turning circles, playing tag, etc. I WILL smile throughout the day, and I will be gentle but firm in my reminders to stop TALKING WHILE I'M TEACHING OR OTHERS ARE TALKING. YEESH. I will be patient, I will be patient, I will be patient.
What I really want to do is craft with them all day. Learn how to talk to one another. Play games. Cook food. Plant a garden. Make mistakes and learn from them, without the pressures of finishing this or that assessment on time, taking away recess time, or walking in a perfect silent line. But on the other hand, our children and all children DESERVE literacy. So I will assess, I will look at data, I will meet with my guided reading groups and stress over scores and DRA until the words "Close the book and tell me about the story" show up in bold print in my dreams. I will kiss their owies, sprinkle quiet dust and pretend wake up dust on their heads, open up wrapped class books as rewards for kindness, and sing everyone's names and redirections to bring something new to this classroom and education. I have already fallen in love with my class, but feel like I'm doing them somehow wrong by being so picky, so irritable, so HUMAN.
I want to be like Ms. Honey or the seemingly flawless authors of teacher blogs who have time to do Art everyday, utilize best practices, AND make money by posting lessons. I will continue to misstep, like my students, and can only hope to do right by them. I know there will be days where I question once again what I'm doing here-- why did I ever think I could do this? And then there will be days when I walk into the room and can't imagine doing anything else...and I will survive, and they will survive, and we'll learn together how to make this work.
Hello, Year 3.