And just like that, the school year is over. To say it was my toughest in 19 years is an understatement, but in a way the year was a very weird juxtaposition. Because, in a way, it was also one of the best years I've ever had.
On one hand, my new position as a professional learning leader allow me opportunities to lead professional development sessions for my colleagues in my building and talk about topics like helping students develop a growth mindset, trying out a genius hour, and incorporating creativity by connect with our special area teachers. The discussions that came out of these sessions were very powerful, as were the questions, so I'm hoping to move forward next year with a bi-weekly newsletter with tips and tricks and co-teaching with different people who are interested in giving some new things a try. I'm also starting to think that maybe being an instructional coach may be the next thing for me. Still not sure on that, but I truly have enjoyed working with the other teachers to change how they do things in their classrooms. I also really enjoyed changing how *I* did things in my classroom. It certainly was hard to turn my back on the PVAAS scores and all of that, but I feel like the opportunities for creativity and problem solving that I integrated in my classroom benefitted my kids way more than any test score ever will. I'm really hoping the think more about how I can do that and more closely connect the activities with my curriculum this year.
So, after reading all of that awesomeness, you might be wondering how I had such an awful year. I guess the easiest way to explain it is that I'm a bit of a sensitive soul. I know how hard I work for my kids, and I know everything I try to do to make sure they're learning the best they can. So to repeatedly hear that you aren't good enough, that you don't know what you're doing, and maybe somebody needs to teach you what to do for certain kids.... well, that can be a hard pill to swallow. Mental illness is also a very difficult pill to swallow. And when you're working with kids who are struggling with mental illness, every day feels like tiptoeing around a mine field. Every. Single. Day. And every single day it feels like you aren't getting through, you're not doing enough, and you're having to protect yourself and the other kids you care about from whatever words or actions come might come your way. It drains you when you get bombarded all the time.
But the good news is that it's over, and I'm looking forward to a restful and relaxing summer with all kinds of things planned to rebuild me and who I am as a person and a teacher.