Summer is a distant memory. It is now October.
You have survived the opening day jitters.
You have learned many students names.
You have planned and executed over five weeks of meticulously crafted lessons.
You have established classroom norms.
You have read many Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).
You have attended meetings and staff development days.
You have listened to district initiatives that you hope (or hope not) to implement this school year.
You have assessed your students’ gifts and challenges.
You have wrangled with classroom technology.
You have collaborated with your colleagues.
You have chaperoned events.
You have battled your first cold.
You have read a hundred emails.
You have graded papers and completed progress reports.
You have met many parents both informally and formally at that annual Back to School Night.
You is tired.
If, however, you are as energized as the first day of school, please tell me your secret. Sell me your magic pill. Because I am surviving with caffeine. If I could get it into my veins, I would.
October is a pivotal month. A month where fall turns to winter, the holidays loom, and the real work of teaching coincides with family issues and “real-world” drama. It is a time when our paychecks don’t stretch quite enough to dig us out of the credit card bills accrued in summer and we realize that our own children have no college funds.
October is the time of the school year where the real work of teaching begins. The honeymoon is over — kids and their teachers are no longer on their best behavior.
October is also the month we teachers choose to be the kind of teacher we want to be. So, what will you and I decide to do this year?
Will we reach back into that file and repeat what we did next year, or will we improve that unit or lesson?
Will we worry about the standardized test, or focus on the students taking those tests?
We will let our exhaustion and stress consume us, or we will recognize when we need to say “no,” or maybe even, God forbid, take a personal day?
Will we shut our door and teach, or will we reach out to our colleagues for collaboration?
Will we look out at our classroom as a collection of students, or will we try to see each of them as individuals?
We will allow those struggling learners to tread water, or will we throw them a lifeline?
Will we be open or closed?
Will we take risks or remain stagnant?
Luckily, we are not powerless. You and I can answer each of those questions listed above and dig deep into the art of teaching.
I am sure as I grapple with those tough questions, I will have a carafe of coffee nearby.
Good luck to us all.