Spring has come and, with it, all the promise of finishing this year out strong. In a strange way, it feels like some things have already come to an end. We had our last district-wide 8th grade English day and, after hours of reflection and planning and best practices for next year, I walked into the sunshine, grateful for such a strong content team and support from my fellow 8th grade ELA teachers. I spent the entirety of this weekend with at a Rice homecoming-like event and didn’t think about school until this evening.
My kids take STAAR on Wednesday. It’s incredibly high-stakes – if they don’t pass Reading, they don’t go to 9th grade – so we’re spending the next two days trying to just breathe and keep stress at the optimal performance level…not too low, not too high. We’re talking a lot about grit and mindset and self-fulfilling prophecies. And on Wednesday, when the students of Room 23 spend four hours reading and answering questions about six passages, all I can do is pray.
I feel like I’m finally re-hitting the stride I found in January. I had ten school friends (including my coach and grade-level-chair) over for dinner on Saturday night and we had a wonderful time. I’m completely planned for tomorrow. We’re doing the Poet Warriors project on Thursday & Friday; my kiddos need a break from high-pressure testing and need to exercise their creativity a bit. The sun sets later and I now have time to run/feel like an actual person after school. I made my grandma’s matzah ball soup recipe for dinner last night and it turned out phenomenally. Life is good.
Spring’s settling into my bones and I like it. The memorial service was beautiful and I feel like I can breathe again, sort of move on in a way, keeping his memory in my heart while continuing to live my life more fully and more wholeheartedly than I used to. At the service one of the seniors spoke poignantly about what we can take away from all of this. Academics are important, but it’s more important to be happy, and to share that happiness with the world.
Sometimes my school gets criticized for being a “high-stakes, no-excuses charter” and while little elements of that may be true…we produce students who think like this, and teachers who cry of happiness when students say things like this. And that is pretty damn beautiful.