Why Bother Looking Forward?
When summer break from school began, I looked forward to the expanse of time off from work. I anticipated lingering over breakfast while reading a good book, and riding my bike instead of the daily drive to work. I anticipated backpacking, hiking, and a road trip or two with my husband. But all of that is behind me now. School has begun and now, I am moving ahead into a new school year. But starting school again, also brings with it a sense of looking forward. Though my days are no longer filled with leisure, and unstructured time outside, my days are now filled with structuring, shaping, and motivating a group of nine and ten year olds inside a classroom. And like looking forward to the activities the summer months brought into my life, I anticipate what lies ahead for me in my classroom.
Looking Ahead, Not Behind
Though this is my fifth year of teaching fourth grade, every year is a new year. I do not teach the same batch of students I taught the previous year. Instead, I get a new group. My “old” students and I remember each other fondly, and wave at each other in the hallways, but they are not sad they moved ahead to the next grade.
What I look forward to every year as a teacher is knowing how my students and I start out as strangers, but we do not stay that way. By the end of our 180 days togher, we form strong, trusting and respectful relationships that will last beyond the fourth grade.
Another thing I look forward to going forth with a new batch of students is being a witness to their learning. The concepts a fourth grader digests are not easy; multiplication, division, fractions, conventions, parts of speech, and writing essays are just a few of the targets I aim them toward. Then when I witness the eureka moment in their life, I am exhilarated, joyful and energized. I never know when it will happen, but I anticipate it every year with every group.
Finally, I look forward to participating with my learning community. Though I am the only fourth grade teacher in my school, I am not the only teacher. I do not teach alone. My team includes most directly, the third, fifth and sixth grade teachers. Indirectly, my support comes from the principal, secretary, special education, kindergarten, first and second grade teachers. Together we move all of our students forward toward their success whether it be in math, science, writing, reading or getting along with others.
Yes, I look forward to my summer and all its fun, but I also look forward to teaching a new batch of students, witnessing their eureka moments and working alongside a professional community.
Why bother looking forward? It is worth looking forward because nobody keeps their eyes in the rear view mirror while driving ahead.