Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Letting go...

As with so many worthwhile things, my job has its share of difficult moments. When you have a particularly hard day, like I did today, you question what you could have done differently. Reflection is important in a job like mine, but beating yourself up is time consuming, emotionally draining and serves no purpose than to deplete you of whatever energy you need to get back in the ring.

Our state mandated test is in less than a week. As a teacher, I am running around like a chicken without a head. As a parent of a third grader who will be testing for the first time, I am running around like a chicken without a head.

I am tired of the drill, practice and other test related hoopla. I am done. But I must continue, so that I know that I have done everything that I possibly could, until the last moment. But today, in one of our practices, my class totally messed up. Maybe it was because they are tired of all of it too, maybe it was carelessness, but I was mad...and more than mad, I was scared.

Scared for them, scared for me, scared for their parents. Because as adults, we are constantly trying to fix things, improve, adjust...we can never let things be. In some cases, it is a very good thing...think technology. In other cases, the relentless pursuit of perfection is like searching for the Holy Grail...you never find what it is you are looking for.

And with children, sometimes the adjustments and improvements stick, and sometimes they don't. As a teacher, I have some control over what happens within my classroom walls. As a parent, I have some control over what happens within my home. But when my children (both my students and those I birthed) are on the outside, how will they act is entirely up to them. Hopefully, they will use what they have been taught and put it to good use.

At the beginning of my teaching career, I bought a small framed saying. "We can give our children two gifts: One is roots, the other is wings." At some point, we have to let go. Let go of our insecurities, let go of the things that will inevitably happen, let go of the things we cannot change.

We have to let go so that we can be free. It happens as we grow older and the time comes for us to venture on our own, away from our parents. It happens when we are parents and have to let our children go, in small steps. It is then that the roots, if firmly in place, will secure their success.

Let's hope that I have done that for my son and for my students; that their roots are firmly planted. Let's hope that they spread their wings and SOAR...


  1. Ahh, letting go. It's such a difficult thing to do! Luckily for me, my son is only 13 months old, so I haven't had too much of "letting go" to do, but what I have had to do already has been really hard on me. I can't imagine how hard it's going to be as he gets older!

  2. I know your kids, students and birthed, will do great! Kids are always full of surprises and I bet they will surprise you again on their tests!Hang in there, get through it, and celebrate when its over!

  3. Testing sucks. I always hated that part of teaching. They'll do great--I just know it!

  4. You sound like a wonderful teacher! I'm so glad children have a teacher with such vision!

  5. I am fried. So are my students. We are all done, I think. There is such a thing as beating a dead horse. As far as when Ben and Aidan are taking these damned tests? Oh crap. I hadn't thought of that yet.

  6. As a former teacher, I relate viscerally to the feeling you present so powerfully here. At testing time I always wondered if the higher-ups understood the difference between true teaching and drilling.

    I hope that your kids make you proud. I have a sneaking suspicion from what I've read on your blog that you are a mighty fine teacher and that they will do great!


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