Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering What's Important

The start of a new school year is filled with conflicting emotions. I love the beginning of school. I love new school supplies, setting up the classroom, and thinking about lesson plans. I love receiving my class lists and first emails from parents excited about our year together. Exhilaration runs through my bones, the year can’t come fast enough.

Except when it doesn't. The flip side of this impatience to begin the year is a panic that I won’t be ready. Looking around my room I’m hit with an ever-mounting to-do list that I know I can never complete.

This panic threatens to overshadow my joy about a new year. Luckily a few reminders today put the true importance of a new school year back in focus. I have been mainly working on my room at night during my son’s football practice. It seemed to make sense, I figured I had to be there already, why not use my time wisely? I realized today what was missing. 

Dropping by school to do just a couple of things in my classroom, I had the chance to visit with fellow teachers, custodians, secretaries, and my principal. I realized how much I had missed these friends this summer and how excited I was to get the chance to spend another year together. Of course, this meant I didn’t get as much done in my room as I would at night alone, but it was time well spent.


The other reminder came from a former student, Aaron. Aaron was in my reading class two years ago and had offered to come vacuum my carpet. Aaron has several passions. When he was in my class he educated me in the finer points of electric pencil sharpeners and vacuums on a regular basis. When Aaron found out that I was setting up for the year, he had his dad send me a message to see if he could clean my carpet with his vacuum. His dad, Dan, told me he has over 40 vacuums in their home. His favorite is a professional grade Electrolux. I’m not exaggerating to say that I think Aaron knows more about the Electrolux vacuum than their sales people do. I had a blast talking to him about it, seeing how appalled he was that I own a Dyson, and catching up in general. When I asked Aaron what advice he’d give my son who was starting 6th grade this year, he wisely shared that Luke should do his homework immediately after school each day and not put it off. Common sense, short and sweet, that is Aaron.


Friends, students, learning, and more. That’s what the school year is about. My panic is subsiding and the excitement is building. August 20th, it won’t be long now.

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers.

14 comments:

  1. Loralee Landers DruartAugust 11, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    I understand those conflicting emotions!
    Loved reading about Aaron!

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  2. The initial panic, butterflies, about the beginning will always be there but quickly leaves when student voices begin to fill classrooms. Your Aaron story is wonderful, Katherine. It's a reminder of a saying I would hang in the library--Everyone of us is both a student and a teacher.

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  3. My slice was similar. It's hard to get back into the groove, but you've pointed out (as usual) that our job is about relationships. Love the picture and description of Aaron!

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  4. I think the Electrolux need to know about this young man, Katherine! And you're right-"things' will get done-& remember students can help too, just like Aaron. I think leaving some of the tasks for them helps build community. Best wishes in your quest to be ready!

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  5. Have a wonderful school year. I am glad Aaron has a deep connection with you that helps him on his journey. It's those relationships that help struggling students more than the tutoring.

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  6. I love these stories. Aaron seems amazing. I understand the conflicting emotions too. Thanks for the perspective on what is really important!

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  7. It is good to work alone and have lots of thinking/planning time, but there is nothing better than having colleagues and kids to stop in and chat. I also know of a boy (who is now a man) who was obsessed with vacuums too. Did you know there was a magazine called Vacuum World? My friend was on the cover as a youth. He now works for Miele, a German vacuum company.

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  8. I love the surprise for us that Aaron was at your service. What a perfect way to share the start of a new school year. Lots of good wishes for your year ahead Katherine.

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  9. Your Aaron looks very similar to one of our students. I did a double take because the similarities are so uncanny. Enjoy the rest of your summer and may the excitement never end!

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  10. Nothing beats time spent in the building chatting with colleagues and former students who drop by. So fun to have a former student come by to clean your carpet. Love your words - the panic is subsiding and the excitement is building. Here's to a great beginning of a new school year!

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  11. This is the best way to get ready for the new school year - being with a student whose life you have touched, knowing that what we do in our classrooms every day, all through the school year, resonates for far beyond. I am getting excited about the new year, too. Still three weeks away!

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  12. if I had written this week....this could be my slice too! Students like yours are the ones who TEACH US to remember what is most important.

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  13. You both look a little like a classroom version of American Gothic!

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  14. I love this story! Here's to excitement banishing the panic!

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