I love the beginning of a new school year. After a summer of reading, relaxing, professional development and idea storming, my engine is fired up and I can hardly wait to press down on the accelerator at full speed when the "start" flag drops! I race into the first quarter with a full gas tank of excitement, energy, and ideas.
By second quarter I've settled into my lane and have set my pace. The established relationships with my students refuels me when my "low fuel" light turns on. I'm tired, but I'm still going strong and I'm excited about the progress and gains we've made. My students have grown so much and classes have bonded. We have gained momentum and are making great time.
Thanksgiving gives me a little break to refuel just enough to reach half a tank. Now I know I can make it to the Winter Break when I'll get a full-blown pit stop. When it finally arrives I am running on fumes. My gas tank light is blinking "empty". I am definitely in need of this time away. With a solid two weeks off, I'm able to get the rest and refuel that I so desperately need.
I start back in January with my accelerator pressed down to full speed again and off I go into the new year! Then..... POP! BANG! POW! Just two laps (weeks) in and I get a flat tire. I start fishtailing out of my lane and barely avoid a major collision. What happened?! I was feeling good. I thought I was off to a great start? I was in it to win it. I quickly face the harsh realization that even though my gas tank was full, I am not functioning at full capacity. I like to race at full speed and the Winter pit stop wasn't quite enough to prepare me for the intensity of ending a semester and all that entails.
As a semester teacher, I get a whole new crew in 2 weeks. I am gearing up for a complete reboot. New...
All of this "new" comes without the freshness of a school year start. I haven't had a summer to get a system overhaul. I don't have a week of inservice to organize and put my room back together again. Then there's the sadness. Our classes have bonded; we are family. We have found our rhythm and have created an amazing class dynamic. We've had triumphs and struggles, shared moments of laughter and tears. We've worked hard and we've had loads of fun. To say goodbye to these students who I have built relationships with is incredibly hard for me. I've invested in them. I love em'.
So how do I get back in the race after I fishtail and find myself off course? I take a deep breath and realize that I need to take care of myself. I schedule time to "refuel" each week by prioritizing my personal passions; running, family laughter, writing, and reading. Then, I swap my tires for some with incredible tread and get back in the race. There is no other option. My new students will be walking through my door in 2 weeks excited for new adventures. I need to buckle up and get ready for a wild and amazing race because my students most definitely deserve an energetic, passionate, joyful Mrs. Richmond and a magical semester of learning.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.