Sunday, September 15, 2019


Well, that was a bit of a pause. This is my twenty-fourth year in education. Twenty-four times I’ve started out the school year, been blindsided by the wave of exhaustion, the overwhelming list of things to do, and I still don’t expect it. Year after year I think that by being super organized, preparing ahead of time, I will be able to start the year off without a hitch.

Nope. Nice idea in theory, in practice it has yet to become a reality. 

In the last six weeks I’ve had several doctor appointments and a crazy amount of tests for a small health issue, had to get stitches after cutting my thumb during a team building exercise, Luke has had x-rays and an MRI along with multiple appointments for a stress fracture, Liam has had an x-ray and appointment for something termed ‘jumper’s knee’, and then there’s just been teaching and life.

I’m exhausted. And stressed. 

And yet, we just finished our twentieth day of school. I love my new classes. At the home football game on Friday night I got to see so many of them out with their friends. They got to meet Chris. They are already sending me messages about how much they love this school year, how they’re enjoying reading, how they’ve been inspired to write, etc. It’s awesome while also feeling like it is never enough.

Today as I drove home from Champaign where I was revising my first book, I listened to Colby and Alaina Sharp’s most recent podcast for Partially Proficient. (Click on the link to learn more.)

Alaina talked about always feeling like she hasn’t done enough and to that, I can relate. (As well as saying “yes” when kids ask to go to the bathroom, but I digress.) Teaching is a tough career. I can work myself to the bone, do great things, and I can always look and see what else I could have done. I can help 73 kids become more enamored with reading, but I will wonder why I couldn't reach the last two. I will pour myself into the job, then get home and feel like I don't have enough left for Chris and/or the boys. Or I will spend more time investing myself at home and beat myself up for not doing more for school.

It is never enough. 

This used to be something I struggled with daily. Make no mistake, I still do at times. Especially at the start of the year. But I’ve tried to become more comfortable this year with just being ok in the moment. I have worked to make myself more vulnerable - to tell my own children or my students how I’m feeling. Sometimes, as I did with one of my sons just moments ago - I just simply tell them why something they did hurt me. No big discussion, no high emotions, just stated truths. I tell them what I’m doing and why it matters. I tell them what I’m shooting for and am ok if we fall up short. The cool thing I’m finding is that I’m becoming less stressed. That my own kids and my students are showing more ownership for their actions. And, and this is key, especially in the classroom I feel like it is more of a group effort to get things done, not just me out there on my own piloting the boat. 

So, as I continue this journey into a new school year, I’m reminding myself that it’s ok to step back a bit and let the kids help. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I know we are always modeling behavior for our children - at home and at school. I want them to see that there is no need to beat yourself up when you are trying your best. And I’m telling myself just to let go, it will be ok, to enjoy the moment. Because living in the present is something I always strive to do. I fail and fail again, but someday I know I will get it.

Hope you are all having a great start to your school year and you are treating yourself with kindness. We’ve got this.