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On Perseverance

Oh, man. After a night of hard cider mixed with champagne, a tacos-for-dinner date night with Sawyer, a good nights’ sleep, a few Saturday morning mimosas, and a slow in-service work day today, I am finally ready to face the beast that was my last week at school.

The week started off wonderfully, we decorated our Valentine’s Day bags and discuss who we love (i.e. mommy, daddy, brother, sister, etc.) on Monday. Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, was a success because we had music class and sang songs about love and friendship, and then we had our Valentine’s Day party! The cupcakes, CapriSun juice packs, and the scavenger hunt for love bugs were all big hits and the kids were excited to participate in the activities. But then, Wednesday happened. It must’ve been a combination of the Valentine’s Day sugar rush wearing off and the cold weather keeping us cooped up indoors, but the children were little devils. For the rest of the week, “no running in the classroom!”, “we don’t hit”, and “please say your sorry to your friend” were staples in the audio reverberating around my classroom. My assistant teacher Alyssa and I joked about making tape recordings of our voices for these specific occasions so we could have a break.img_6883-2

Don’t get me wrong, there were moments between all the chaos that were sweet. I appreciated every hug my students gave me when I came in in the morning, the kiss on the cheek I received from one of my students on Friday afternoon, and the happy smiles I could see after finishing a good book during Circle Time. Those moments shine through the darkness of a tough week, but it was a tough week nonetheless.

I’ve heard that October and November, especially on new teachers, are especially difficult. I started teaching in early December, and as such, I haven’t yet experienced the DEVOLSON (“Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November”, coined by the anonymous teacher-blogger who authors Love, Teach). But if there was a DEVOLSON-type phase for mid-February, I am stuck in the thick of it. According to the New Teacher Center, I may be entering what is called the Disillusionment Phase of my first year as a teacher. While I don’t have many of the things that elementary and high school teachers have coming up – such as back-to-school-night, parent-teacher conferences, and my first formal evaluation (yet) – there is certainly a certain pressure one feels while taking care of some odd 20+ 2/3 year-olds.

It’s an exciting time, teaching this age group, because everything is new and developmentally stimulating. Going potty by oneself and living to tell the tale is a major accomplishment and deserves a high-five each and every time thereafter. Making paper plate art, tracing the letters of the alphabet (and sometimes our names), and beginning to pencil circles and figures on our own is a prodigious achievement. I enjoy every overly-excited explanation of exactly what happened when they left the room with Alyssa to go potty, as well as every hug, high five, and hard-earned sticker that I give out to my kids.

I have recently begun work on returning to school for a masters in Education, catering toward elementary levels. Finally – I tell my loved ones – I’ve found my passion. While I’m excited to take these next steps, I’ll certainly miss the classroom I have found myself in charge of now once I’ve completed my certification.

Persevering through difficult days/weeks has been made easier (and more simple) knowing that I have found such a passion in the education field. Even on the toughest days, I know that my presence has impacted someone, that I have made a child happy by sitting with them to do a craft or giving them a high-five after a successful potty mission. After a long day, I look forward to coming home, relaxing with my cats on the couch, and setting up a craft for the next day, despite how tired out I am from a day of chasing children around. Instead of feeling like the “Fun Police” when I ask a child to stop running around the classroom four or five times, I look forward to the next activity I get to do with them.

Perseverance after a long day/week at work is similar to perseverance when striving for a more simple and thoughtful lifestyle. Instead of dwelling on what could be and how much there still is to do, I have chosen to focus on the accomplishments that have already come out of my work and look forward to the next venture that will bring me closer to my goals. There are so many unpleasant things already, I choose not to focus on the negatives from a draining day and instead try to refocus my energies on the positives – whether they be the small instances of success as a teacher (i.e. a child remembering their “please” and “thank you” during lunch, the hug I received from a student as soon as I walked in the door that morning) or the fresh start each new morning provides. These are the simple things that allow my days at work to become thoughtful and more simplistic in themselves.  Not to mention it’s always a great feeling to tack up last week’s Activity Boards with student work, photographs, and a nice write-up of our activities and reflect on how much we accomplished together.

I would love to hear your stories on perseverance, especially when it comes to the work environment! Any job, any profession – teachers aren’t the only ones who have bad days! Let me know how you handled the stress and what kept you going when you felt drained at the end of the day.

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