Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Longest School Year Ever...

With last night's graduation ceremony what seems to be the longest school year ever came to a close. It was a bit emotional watching these students I have come to love cross the stage and begin a new adventure in their life. But it made me also realize that with the closing of this school year I also begin a new adventure. Maybe not as mysterious and unknown as the adventure those 31 students will experience as they embark on the road to University and the rest of their life, but an adventure none the less.

This school year has seemed to go on forever. I honestly feel like it started 2 years ago. As I look back on the beginning of the year it is hard to believe that some of what happened only happened 9 months ago. 1st it was a long year for me as a teacher. I was working hard to refine my 6th grade curriculum and the creativity it took out of me was incredible. By the end of the year I was done, I honestly could not think of ways to bring life to the curriculum because I had given every bit of my creative juice to the beginning. I began to really lack the attention to details that I felt the class deserved. I was also teaching a brand new subject with my 12th Grade class. While this was incredibly fun, it was also extremely challenging. It was almost like standing at the bottom of a steep mountain climb and trying to climb without any ropes. It was extremely exhilarating with each hunt for a new foot and hand hold, but it was also terrifying at moments and I felt their were times I was just gripping the rock face for dear life as I tried to maintain some sort of control of a curriculum I really had very little familiarity. There were moments of greatness in both class for sure, but the amount of time I spent planning and reading and creating and pouring in emotionally to those classes really took a toll on me. The school year has really left me feeling like an incredibly wrung out dish rag.

Second, the school year for my 3rd grader seemed really long. Most likely because I did not give the time I should have to paying attention to what she was doing. I have to say, I have one of the most incredible 8 year olds ever. This kid can look at what she has to accomplish, plan out when and what she needs to do, and get it done with very little help from me. While I know I am incredibly luck she is so self-sufficient I feel like a bit of a failure as a co-teacher. I gave very little input into anything she did unless it was crunch time. I mean I never really even helped her study for a test. She still managed to make As on almost every thing she did over all but if I had taken the time (or had the time) to give to her and help her review then I think she could have been even more successful than she was. She has already created a summer plan by the way on how she is going to keep herself on track for next school year and make sure she reviews the material. No help from me, she has created herself a schedule and everything. While that is great for me as a mom, I also know I need to be a bit more active in her learning and make sure I am there when she needs it.

Third, the school year for my little guys was long. This was probably the best part of the year, but it did seem to not go as planned and turn into a bit of a different picture than I originally drew. Part of this change came from our one car situation. We would drop the kids off at school a bit earlier than I planned, and we would pick them up a bit later than I planned because we were sharing one car and that just makes things take more time often. But it also ties back to my need to spend so much time on school. I feel like too I watch my now 3 and 4 year old change academically in huge ways and change personally. They both have lost that "babyness" and have become little kids. They have made huge strides in development and it has made 9 months seem so much longer than 9 months.

All around these last 9 months have brought so many changes to my life, I could go on and on with a list of things that changed and made this year just feel sooo long. It also had me wishing for the school year to just be over, so I can honestly say there was a bit of relief at the end of graduation that "yes! this school year is over and I can move forward into another chapter with a clean slate."  As bittersweet as it is to see some amazing students move on it is somewhat nice to start with a blank page. It's time to start writing the next chapter.

So as I begin this new journey, I've made a few decisions on how I am going to try to make sure this isn't the longest school year ever again (because honestly I don't think I could handle one that seems any longer than this one did!).
1. I have scaled back on my teaching days. I may be picking up some work on one of these days but it won't be teaching classes, and this should really help bring some free time to my life that allows me a bit more flexibility and availability to give either to my husband, kids, or house...
2. I am getting started now! I have accomplished so much this week as I wrapped up the close of this school year. I began planning next year, and have already made huge strides in planning for next school year. In doing this I have set some goals for the 2 months of my summer vacation. I will spend set times each week when it does not take away time from spending with my kiddos planning and preparing for next year so I don't end up spending every waking moment planning the next day's lessons. I really want to have it done when I return to school in August.
3. Through items 1 and 2 I believe this should help me with having more time to spend helping my oldest with her school work, or just being available when she needs it, and making every moment count with my younger 2. As I said in previous posts I am done waiting... time to seize every moment!

I have a few things I may be adding to my life next school year, but I feel like after the lengthy adventure this year I am bit wiser and bit more cautious and purposeful in my time management. I am working on not over committing to things that I don't "have" to do, and I am definitely going to enter the next school year with a much better plan of how I will spend each day, so I don't look back and say, that was the longest school year ever... Again!

C.S. Lewis seemed to really get this, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next." I am ready to think about the next and not let the now keep me so dried out that I have nothing left to give to the next. As I continue to wring myself out giving every last drop into the present moment or present urgent task, I leave nothing to give to the next amazing moment that comes my way. Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." It is a wise move to enter my next days with a better plan than I did this year. As much as I like a bit of unpredictability and like to change up what I am doing often, it is wise to think about my next. Ephesians 5:15 - 16 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Again, I am reminded that I should be living as the wise... the wise MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY! 

So, starting today, I enter into this next summer and this next school year a little wiser and a little more prepared to live with a plan to avoid missing amazing opportunities God brings my way. 

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