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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

This School Year is One Long October

This school year is one long October.

I came to this realization a couple of weeks ago, when it was mid-October, and as I've shared the thought with a few colleagues I've found it a really helpful thought to hold onto in those challenging moments when student behaviors are so disruptive, when adults are frustrating, and when things just seem suddenly completely overwhelming. If you've felt like this year has been frustrating and exhausting, maybe you can relate.

Most teachers with a certain number of years of experience know what October is like every year. You spend the month of September patiently reviewing expectations, taking the time to establish routines and build relationships, and giving yourself and everyone else grace because hey, it's the beginning of the year, of course we're all overwhelmed, we're all tired, and we're all still learning how to do stuff. We've got time. Then October comes. Finally, all that hard work you put into introducing and reviewing and practicing and reviewing procedures and expectations, all the time you've had to get settled into a routine and get to know each other, all of that time and effort will pay off and we can really start chugging along with the school year. 

Except then come to find out, we don't magically all become superstars in October. Actually there is still practice and reviewing of expectations that needs to happen, and there is still a lot of relationship building that needs to happen. October is when we think things will be smooth sailing, and we're incredibly frustrated when it isn't. Every. Year. Then one day a few days or weeks into October we realize hey, I remember this, and we take our expectations down a couple of notches and start giving ourselves some grace again.

This entire school year is like one long month of October. For the last 2 years we've been giving ourselves and everyone else grace because hey, it's a pandemic. We've been learning and reviewing and revisiting expectations because nobody knows what they're doing. We've been patient and understanding with emotional outbursts and disruptive behaviors because we've all experienced trauma in ways we don't fully fathom ourselves. 

But the pandemic protocols have been mostly set aside. No more mask mandates, social distancing, cohorting, dual teaching, or incessant hand washing. This is the year we can finally get back to real teaching and learning! This is when things will finally, after two years of intense struggle, be smooth sailing, right?

It's incredibly frustrating to realize that we're not there yet, but it's time to realize hey, I know what's going on, and take our expectations down a couple of notches and start giving ourselves some grace again. 

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