Okay. I know. It’s SUMMER. And the absolute last thing you even want to begin to think about is the upcoming school year. It’s now mid-July so that means that here in Texas we’ve now reached the point in the summer where we’ve enjoyed more of it than we have left. I’m going to be honest, the other day someone asked me when I officially went back, and I replied “I don’t know.” Isn’t there just something so blissfully freeing about not having to know, at least not yet?
These summer days are even more precious to me now as I enjoy each moment with my two little boys. We soak up the mornings of sleeping in, snuggling in our pajamas, and watching Mickey Mouse on the couch. We enjoy going on mini-adventures to the zoo, science museums, parks, and the homes of close friends. I love everything about this time and while I long for it to never end, I know that it will, and I must prepare both my mind and my heart for the students that will be placed in my classes this next school year.
You see, I am not naive. I know that the learning that takes place in my classroom starts with me. I’m not necessarily referencing the actually teaching that I do (I mean that’s obviously very important), but I am referring to the climate that I create in my classroom. Do my students feel cared for? Is this classroom comfortable for them? How can I make each class bond? How can I keep my outlook and perspective positive so that I can create a positive atmosphere each day? These are questions that while I am still soaking up every last bit of summer, I am taking the time to ponder. As teachers, we are so much more than just deliverers of information. WE bring the HEART to the classroom.
So, that all brings me to these three things that I am reminding myself of as I begin to prepare to enter my classroom for the 10th year.
This seems so blatantly obvious but I also know that we all have the one teacher friend who’s Insta is life. It’s got all these beautiful pictures of her brilliantly decorated classroom. She’s got fabulous flexible seating options. Flair pens galore. And to top it all off her action shots of her students working diligently have got you thinking, what in the world am I doing wrong? Let me tell you. You are doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong. Don’t buy into the lie that anyone else has “it together”, I’m about 100% positive that the only thing keeping “it” are these two quotations marks. I’m guilty as my dog after he’s stolen the PB&J sandwich of my toddler’s plate at playing the comparison game. After all, it’s what humans do and social media has made it so much easier to buy in to the lie. So, I’m giving you permission to take a social media break. Even if for a day. Make a list of things that you are AWESOME at. Post it somewhere you can see it and embrace you. When we take time to focus in on our own abilities, it takes away the need to compare. Let’s rest in the fact that we were each designed and created to fulfill a unique purpose.
Being a teacher is hard. If you’re not a teacher, you can’t even begin to understand what all it entails. It’s like that saying “from the outside looking in you can’t understand, and from the inside out you can’t explain it.” It’s a wonderful, rewarding, exhausting, pour yourself out and do it again tomorrow, type of career. Often, there is no time for you. So I am telling you to make time. Especially this summer. Even if that means waking up 30 minutes before your kids get up, making yourself a cup of hot coffee, and curling up on the couch with a book. (My personal fave). But you do you. And practice a little self-care!
Yeah this is the FUN part. I love it. I love shopping for deals on cute new things to add to my classroom. I love the thrill of picking out a new planner (which I will buy and then subsequently only use for about a month). I love dreaming about finally being able to get in the school and start setting up for a fresh new year. Preparing the classroom is so important because not only does it help to create a warm, welcoming classroom environment, but YOU spend a ton of time there, so YOU need to LOVE IT. But loving it doesn’t always mean it has to cost a small fortune. Try and find small unique ways to make it yours. Some of my favorite ways to accomplish this is by hanging beautiful posters that make me feel happy. They weren’t expensive and I’ve had them forever. But there’s something about them that warms my heart and makes me feel a little more at home. And of course, I have pictures of my family and dogs around my classroom to add a little homey touch. Not only is it a wonderful way for me to feel surrounded by my loved ones throughout the day, my students love getting a peek inside of my life outside of school. (You know because they have this weird perception that teachers aren’t real humans who go to the grocery store.) Lastly, I find adding texture in easy ways, like a desk skirt, or my cheap bathroom rugs (they are way cuter than you are thinking), can really add a homey touch to the cold interior of my science lab. It just so happens that today, luck was looking my way when I found THE PERFECT outdoor rug on clearance at Target that’s going to work great with my flexible seating (and it will be super easy to clean). However, above all the cutesy decorations, I always remember, that it’s not about the stuff, but about creating a space that is comfortable, inviting, and fosters the HEART of the classroom which starts with me.
As we enter into the last part of July, take time for you. Breathe in that last bit of summer. Let it renew, refresh, and ready you for those fresh faces that you will have the joy to inspire, encourage, and guide during the upcoming school year. Let’s do this!
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