A New Year Begins
I have not had my own classroom of children for a number of years and yet, every time a new school year begins I still miss it.
I miss having my own cluster of children to be with and to belong to. I miss the simple things like planning new ways for us all to get to know each other. I miss the labeling of boxes and baskets and shelves and desks in the current year’s struggle for organization. I miss the buying of school supplies and the shopping for a few new items for my classroom. I miss the nights of restless sleep as I wonder who they will be and also who I will be. I miss the smell of glue and paint and newly sharpened pencils and fresh crayons. I miss the buying of a new outfit for the first day of school.
There are things I don’t miss too.
I don’t miss the smell of burnt green beans wafting through the halls or the pungent smell of the boys’ bathroom assaulting my senses. I don’t miss the endless meetings and the meaningless bulletins in my cluttered teacher mailbox. I don’t miss recess duty on hot September days or the traffic fighting to keep me from getting home before dark. I don’t miss the sad look in some children’s eyes when they are faced with going home to an empty home. I don’t miss the race to find chairs when class size is greater than chair counts or hunting for supplies for the child who has none.
The balance is clear to me. I miss more than I thought I would, but I am able to contribute to teaching and learning in useful, powerful ways from outside of a classroom of children. The world is my classroom, for both learning and teaching. It still has its hills and valleys, challenges and successes, joys and sorrows.
So while many of my peers begin a new year of teaching and learning, so do I. I will search out those who I can help, support, change, influence and teach while I also seek out ways to be helped, supported, changed, influenced and taught by so many. I embrace this “back-to-school” time as a time of growth, learning and yes, maybe even a new outfit or two.