Here is a little secret about teachers, or at least the ones I know. We number the school weeks from 1 to 40 as we plan. Week 16 just ended, reminding me we are almost halfway done. Still so much to learn. All those fractions, to decimals, to percents driving my kids crazy. Winter break just two weeks off. Gingerbread houses dangling over their heads like the promise of Santa watching to reward those who are naughty and those who are nice.
When I think of all the weeks I have already survived, I see a bumpy road of highs and lows. This week, thank goodness, was a high. My students worked hard, behavior was good. Only one student went to the office. Consistent behavior management is paying off, even if sometimes it feels painful. I get it though. When you let things slip, each slip gains momentum until suddenly you find yourself in the middle of disaster. Better to be consistently firm.
Week 16 was bittersweet. One of my students rapped in front of the school on Friday for our weekly Town Hall, telling the students “We don’t be rude, we be polite,” teaching assertiveness with four hundred little pairs of hands waving along with him. Still, his friend sat in the bleachers sulking because he lost his chance on the mic. Consistency is hard sometimes, even if it means you care enough about someone to recognize the long-term benefit.
It is strange how two years with the same kids makes you care about them so deeply. I know it goes both ways. They often call me Mom by mistake, the familiarity sometimes confusing when they’re not paying attention. I always respond in a syrupy voice, “Yes, darling?” Then we laugh. That’s the thing. When you spend more than six hours a day directly interacting in one small room, day in and day out, you really do become a family. Even my toughest kids, the ones who would never crack last year, can be made to smile in the middle of their fits.
So, as week 16 ends, I am reflective. I worked so hard to get this little motley crew to care about each other, and now they do, but soon enough they’ll be off to middle school and I’ll be left to start over again. I know this is teaching and I’m not sad exactly, just reflective. We have grown so much and I am grateful to be at a high point instead of a dip.
I leave you with my teaching team’s idea of a good joke. Our Napoleon Dynamite inspired snack day, a quesa-dila bar. Amazing how a little laughter at work makes the day better.