It's that time of year...meeting are in full swing, assessments are all due WAY TOO SOON, there doesn't seem to be enough time to get everything (or anything) done, and everyone's stress level is through the roof. Somehow I had avoided this feeling...that is until a meeting today where it hit me in the chest like a ton of erasers when I found out that dates of when things are due was moved up, as well as more paperwork that needs to be done. I finally felt the pressure and about cracked when I got home (I refuse to ever show stress, fear, anxiety or tears at work), until I was retelling a story from this morning about a kid in my class to my roommate. Here's a little background on this kid...hand picked for my class because of, quote, "his issues", sent to the office for struggling to stay in his own personal space (a.k.a. jumping on other kids, pulling on their clothes and limbs, roughhousing on the playground and in the gym, etc.), he's been suspended from the bus for hitting, and generally has had some problems in the past. None of these things have been issues this year, although he did get suspended from the bus last week for biting...yes biting...another student. In class he is as good as gold-eager to please, participates, helpful, tries his best so on and so on. I mean, I can't ask for much more than that. So, to the story that started it all-here's the scene: as he is walking back to his seat from throwing trash away, he stops, wraps his little arms around my waist and leans his head on my back while I am putting away papers in a folder...
J-"I love you Miss ____., I'm really glad I'm in your class."
J-"Cause you make me feel special. I feel really good about myself when I'm in here...like I'm smart and stuff."
Me-(cue tear ducts about to overflow) "Aww, thank you honey, you are special, and you should feel good about yourself, you're a really good kid."
J-"Thanks Miss _____, I'm going to go read now."
Then as if this was nothing out of the ordinary he skipped back to his seat, took out a book and started to read, while I'm standing there trying to keep myself composed and not loose it in front of 20+ children. As stressful as the next couple of weeks are going to be, that right there is why I do what I do and why I put up with all of the paperwork, bureaucracy, and unreasonable expectations. If one kid, who is counted as a "problem" or "troublemaker" gets a second chance to feel good about themselves, like they are someone important who is loved and wanted by their teacher, then I have done my job well and count the year a success. Thank you J, for reminding me of the true assessments that matter this year and for helping me to put everything back in perspective. Now I'm off to grade some paperwork...