Ahhhhh! Summer! That time of year that a teacher can take a breath and be ok. That time of year when a teacher can drink two cups of coffee and not worry about making it till lunch time or special! LOL
The end of the year is bitter sweet. We are so ready for summer. The kids are too! The thought of saying goodbye after all those days together is still sad - even after 26 years! I can't even believe I have been teaching that long! Where does the time go? I can't believe my kids are almost all grown up! The DD will be starting her teaching career this fall. OMG! She will be moving to a new state and everything. When I walk by my living room right now, I kinda can't wait. I know when the day comes, I will be crying like a baby! I am so happy and excited for her though! She has worked so hard to get to this point! Super proud! It will just be different that she will have her own place and not come home for the breaks! Another new. The DS will be a sophomore. That is going too fast. He's the one I am afraid will never leave the house! HA! We will tell with time.
The end of this school year brought three kindergarten teachers retiring out of the six of us. Half the team. We did hire three wonderful teachers to fill their spots. We will continue to have a strong team that will advocate for early childhood education!
As I watched the retirees pack up their classrooms and go through everything in their rooms, I had some thoughts.
1- All kindergarten teachers are basically hoarders. :-) I think because we are always looking at books, blogs, and Pinterest and thinking that would be great! I'm going to do it. Do we really have ALL that time to do ALL the cute ideas we find? And then we go to do it and we can't find ALL the materials to do the project because our cabinets are so full, you can't find anything. Because we hoard everything and shove it in closets. Please tell me, it's not just me!?!?! I look at my two Ikea bookshelves in my classroom ( and some filing cabinet drawers) and think -"Do I need those books anymore?" At one point, that is all we had. We had to get a book so we had some materials. Now we have the internet. We can find anything we want. We can find several versions. We can be picky about which one we choose to use. We can find ways to do it better, easier and cheaper than we thought. Thanks to all the wonderful sharing teachers out there.
2- Everything old is new again. As I watched materials being pulled from the back of the cabinets, I was reminded of shifts in education. Character building was huge. We had kits, we had books. Is it still important? OF COURSE! Is it the hot new buzz word? No. "Old Fashioned" bulletin board sets. Homemade. Before color printers. Before clipart cd's. They are still nice and good. Do we use them? Hardly ever. Do we still put up bulletin boards? Yes. Manipulatives - remember when they were well made? Wooden pattern blocks. Now they are cheap plastic and the set is so small. But yet we are still using them. Fiction books, non fiction books, shared reading, whole language, portfolios, cooperative learning... the list goes on.
3- Classrooms do NOT have to be Pinterst worthy. Not every classroom is going to look as good as some of those pictures. That's OK! As Pete would say, "It's all good!" Do I think an organized classroom is important? Absolutely! Does that mean different things to different people? Yes. So long as you are happy it's good. Does it mean you are not a great teacher if your room doesn't look like some of those pictures? NO! Is it ok that you worry about feeding yourself and/or your family before buying things for the classroom? YOU BETCHA!
4- It is truly the relationships with the students that matter! On our last day at our school wide morning meeting, they announced the retirees to the students. The cafeteria lady, the reading specialist and the three kindergarten teachers. The groans for each one made me cry. I'm hoping when they announce my name one day on my very last day of teaching, that there will be a groan too. That will mean I have made an impact.
5- I need to keep working! I LOVE my job! Yes, I do love summer and the break. I need to keep working though because I love the kids and teaching. One day I will be ready to retire. But NOT now. Unless I win the lottery! ;-)
6- I need to clean out! I have to stop pinning and start using. I need to use what I have and be done with it. When the hubby says, "Are we collecting egg cartons still?" I will say no. Somehow I would be able to manage to get 24 of them if I needed them. The parents help. Other teachers help. The custodians and cafeteria people help. It takes a village. I don't need to store the village in my room! I have shared some "extras" with the new teachers. I will be sharing more when I clean out more. I have decided to put a sticker or some mark on an item as I use it. If it doesn't get a mark, it is going. The "might need it one day" phrase will be struck from my vocabulary.
7- I will let the students use the "good markers" and share my things. Why else did I get it? They will take care of things. I will have taught them how to do that. And if they forget and leave the marker cap off, it's ok. I have about 100 more! We will use the art materials and we will not hoard them! If I have to get more, I will.
8- I will not be waiting until the last two weeks of school to clean out my room when I retire. I will start in September. When we are done with a unit, I will clean that unit out. I will not take my first week of retirement cleaning out my room. Well, I guess we will need to wait and see on that one. And I will not be taking ALL of it home. Yes, my books will be coming home with me. I will read to the grandbabies that I may have one day. But what would I do with the rest of it? It's just stuff! That's all. The older I get- especially after cleaning out my mom's house - the more I realize that.
Ok - those are my thoughts and lessons I hope to have learned from this year. If you agree - YEA. If you don't, that's ok too! That is what makes the world go around!